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Become a better listener

Friends communicating

Listening is a big challenge because you spend over 45% of your communication time listening. If you are not a good listener, you will be a less effective communicator. If you strengthen your listening skills you will be able to communicate more effectively at work.

Listening bad habits

Make a note of the listening bad habits that you are sometimes guilty of when communicating with others. Have a look at the list below and make a note of which you might be guilty of, be honest with yourself!

  1. I speak over people
  2. I finish people’s sentence
  3. I offer lots of advise
  4. I make up my mind before I have all the information
  5. I take too many notes
  6. I don’t give a response
  7. I am impatient.
  8. I try to talk about myself
  9. I think about what I am going to reply when people are speaking

How many have you ticked?

Did you realise before that you do these things?

Why do you think you do these things?

Do you think you are a good listener? Why/why not?

How to become a better listener…

Active listening is the best way to listen to others.

Active listening means, as the name suggests, actively listening.

This means fully concentrating on what is being said rather than passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker.

Active listening techniques

  • Building trust and establishing rapport
  • Demonstrating concern
  • Paraphrasing to show understanding
  • Non-verbal cues which show understanding such as nodding, eye contact, and leaning forward
  • Brief verbal affirmations like “I see,” “I know,” “Sure,” “Thank you,” or “I understand”
  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Asking specific questions to seek clarification
  • Waiting to disclose your opinion
  • Disclosing similar experiences to show understanding

Positive speaking checklist

  • Be positive
  • Make sure your listener understands you and ask them questions
  • Explain things in a logical order
  • Make eye contact
  • Try not to fidget
  • Wait your turn
  • Eye contact
  • Appropriate distance from speaker
  • Smile and nod
  • Don't fidget
  • Encouragements such as "mmmm" or "yes"
  • Question the speaker

Below are some questions to test your understanding.

  1. Where would the best place be to have a deep conversation? (Why have chosen this option? What makes it a good place for a deep conversation?)
    1. On a train
    2. At a busy bar
    3. In a quiet library
    4. At a coffee shop
  2. How can you show someone you are listening?
    1. Keep your arms at your side, rather than crossed.
    2. Nod, rather than trying to react with your face
    3. Be completely quiet until it’s your turn to speak
    4. Make eye contact at least 10 seconds before looking away
  3. True or False: If someone says something you disagree with, it’s best to keep your counter arguments to yourself.