Improve Listening Skills in 7 Easy Steps

Are you often misunderstood? Would you like to increase your professional opportunities and get greater satisfaction from your interpersonal relationships? Most people who struggle with communication think about enhancing their oral communication or public speaking skills but few think to improve listening skills. Listening is an important part of the communication process, but it’s not given the attention it deserves.

Consider implementing these strategies to improve listening skills:

1. When someone is talking to you, try to stay fully focused on the conversation. Because most of us can’t do two things at one time (or at least do them well), stop whatever else you may be doing when someone is talking to you to improve listening skills.

* If you’re unable to pause what you’re doing, let the person know. Ask them to stop speaking for a bit, and mention briefly why you’re asking them to wait.

* Say something like, “Can you hang on just a minute? I’m adding up some figures. As soon as I’m finished, I can listen to you.”

* Avoid trying to communicate with others while watching television or working on the computer because these distractions will hamper your efforts to really listen.

2. Body language is important to listening. You can improve listening skills by turning your body toward the person speaking.

* Leaning toward the person who’s speaking demonstrates that you’re paying attention.

* Refrain from performing tasks that require you to turn your body away from the speaker, for example, doing dishes or other tasks.

3. Make and maintain eye contact with the speaker. In most western cultures, eye contact sends the message, “I hear you and I’m listening.”

* Furthermore, holding eye contact with the speaker communicates, “You have all of my attention at this moment.”

* Be aware that the meaning and impact of eye contact does vary from culture to culture. So, if you regularly interact with cultures other than your native culture, I suggest you learn about their view on eye contact. In some cultures, it could be considered rude.

4.  Refrain from trying to think about how you want to respond while the person is speaking.

* Focus your thoughts on the speaker’s words.

* Your goal in listening is to grasp what the speaker is trying to tell you, not to draft your response.

5. Share what you understood the person to say with them. When the speaker stops talking, taking a moment to check out what you heard also improves listening skills.

* Try stating aloud back what you believe you heard.

* Here’s an example: “So, you can’t pick up the kids after school today because you have a dental appointment at 3:00 p.m. You want me to pick them up, right?”

6. Let the speaker clarify. As the listener, stating what you heard allows the speaker to correct or clarify his remarks. The speaker then can give you confirmation or correction like, “Yes, that’s right. Can you do it?” or “No, I’m not talking about today, I’m asking you to pick up the kids tomorrow because of my dental appointment.”

7. Don’t forget to improve listening skills in personal relationships also. If you’re in a relationship, listening skills are important building blocks to strengthen the relationship.

* A common complaint of people in relationships is, “My partner doesn’t listen to me.”

* Because partners communicate daily, it’s easy to get lazy with applying good listening skills at home.

When you understand what you’re being told or asked, effective listening takes place. If you believe you could benefit by focusing more on people who are speaking to you, you aren’t alone. I am very confident in my speaking skills but know that I could stand to improve listening skills especially when talking on the phone.  What about you? Could you stand to improve your listening skills? You’ll be a better communicator and your relationships with others will thrive!

I hope you’re planning a POWERFUL day!

Allegra

Comments

  1. Rosemary says

    Hi Allegra,

    I really enjoyed your post as it is a very important skill to have , as we all like people who listen to us. When we listen we understand people and can have much more positive relationships on a personal and business level. I will be back to your blog all the best Rosemary

    • Allegra Sinclair says

      Hey Rosemary,
      Thanks for your kind words. We do love it when people listen to us, don’t we? It’s such a simple way to make someone feel good! Have a POWERFUL week! Allegra

  2. says

    Great tips Allegra,
    Many people take this skill for granted – when I was in direct sales and had to interview prospects there were 3 key signals for me as far as determining their initial interest and potential – eye contact, a good handshake and listening skills. Thanks for the tips!

    • Allegra Sinclair says

      Hi Marquita,
      Most people wouldn’t have listening skills on the list of skills to look for but I love that! You can train for lots of skills but a desire to learn more about others is certainly a nice perk. Have a POWERFUL week! Allegra

  3. Jaden Daniels says

    Well you have pointed out to me that I can use some improvement on my listening skills. I do listen, but sometimes I catch myself letting my mind wonder. I think it is usually when I quit with the eye contact. I am going to focus on being a better listener and see what happens.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Jaden

    • Allegra Sinclair says

      Hi Jaden,
      That was easy so I suspect you were willing to work on your listening skills before you visited my blog. :) Sometimes I believe that I listen better when I close my eyes to keep my mind from wandering. I know it doesn’t make sense and it can be disconcerting to the people I’m talking to but it helps me to block out visual distractions. I don’t want to stare into people’s eyes so deeply it makes them nervous. But I do think I’ve become quite a good listener which makes people feel I’m a better communicator. That works for me. Take care, Allegra

  4. Loren Greig says

    Hi Allegra,

    Being not just a good, but a great listener certainly helps to increase our professional opportunities and build stronger relationships with those around us in life and in business.

    You’ve outlined some very important steps to improve our listening abilities such as:

    1. stay fully focused on the conversation
    2. turn our body toward the person speaking
    3. maintain eye contact
    4. refrain from thinking about a response and focusing on the speaker’s words
    5. speak out and paraphrase what you heard
    6. let the speaker clarify
    7. use listening skills as building blocks to strengthen personal relationships

    In this fast paced, information loaded world that we live in today, our listening skills can always be improved upon and enhanced.

    You’ve outlined some valuable skills to work on and I know I can always do some work on mine! There are times with family members, for instance, when I tend to finish their sentences, anticipating what they are saying and I am always wrong!! So, that’s one area I definitely want to improve.

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information!

    Loren

    • Allegra Sinclair says

      HI Loren,
      Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation! Which of the tips are you using to help you work on finishing sentences? That’s a tough one! I was raised in Jersey and I know I talk fast but now I live in the South and lots of people don’t. I really have to work on staying engaged and not rushing people along. That’s just rude and I know better. I’d love to hear how you are working on that. Take care, Allegra

  5. Rick Lelchuk says

    Allegra,
    Great lesson on listening. It is probably the MOST important skill you can learn in business.
    At a recent seminar I learned a tip from which everyone can benefit. By listening to what your prospects and customers have to say you can develop results winning copy for your sales pages and elevation speech. The will tell you what they want, if you just listen.
    Thanks,

    RICK

    • Allegra Sinclair says

      Hi Rick,
      What a wonderful insight. I think what you’re saying is that if we really listen to what people are saying we are in a better position to help them, right? It would certainly prevent us from wasting time talking to people who really want us to stop! That seems like a very useful seminar, thanks for sharing a bit of it with us. I hope you’re planning a powerful week, Allegra

  6. says

    Hi Allegra,
    Thank you for this post! I have always wanted to take a Listening Skills Course. I know I could do a better job with my listening skills, and you have given me many tips to start doing it! I have noticed a big need for better listening skills from others in my business as well. When I am having a conversation on the phone, one of my associates in particular is multi-tasking in the background. She is not being considerate of my time, as I often find myself waiting for her while she does something else. I find it very discourteous and am going to have to find a way in a nice way to encourage better communication.
    Thanks again, for the great tips!
    Linda

    • Allegra Sinclair says

      Hi Linda,
      You are welcome! I’m glad you found some tips that may help you. It seems like you are also developing some wonderful patience skills working with your associate. Aren’t people a gift? It’s unfortunate that we often have so many things that we feel we need to accomplish that we have to work on 4-5 things at the same time. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’re having a POWERFUL week, Allegra

  7. says

    As the saying goes, we are given one mouth and two ears to remember that listening is twice as important as talking.

    Thanks you, Allegra for these timely reminders. For me, I find it only too easy to slip into the mode of thinking what I’m going to say next rather than listening to the person who is talking. I also liked your reminder that in some cultures eye contact is a sign of disrespect, so we need to be sensitive to differences such as this.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    Alan

    • Allegra Sinclair says

      Hi Alan,
      I am also guilty of sometimes thinking instead of listening. But as I get older I realize I do that so I won’t forget what I was going to say. I wish I could just record a quick note to myself sometimes. Senior moment! I’m glad you got something out of the post. Take care, Allegra

  8. says

    Allegra, LISTENING CAREFULLY is the first Rule to Success in Business, in Relationships, and indeed in Life.

    Love this article and all your tips. I will use them with my students. I definitely agree with your first tip, which is supported by subsequent ones in your article. One of the best ways to focus on the speaker in a conversation is to repeat back some of the exact words he or she used. I have heard that parents who do this with their teenagers have experienced amazing results like the child saying, Wow, Mom, you were really listening to me. This has, in fact, changed many parent-child relationships.

  9. says

    Great post Allegra, listening is an important skill to master.
    This is one major reason why people in sales fail to earn a living.

    Combine listening with asking the right questions and you will
    hear all the buying signals your customers have. Sales is easy
    when your listening :)

  10. says

    Great article with valuable information. Effective listening is actually a skill which will be achieved through learning and practice. Very good tips here to improve this valuable skill.

    Jeff

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