8 ways to listen better

What does it take to become a good listener? Try the eight ideas in this video and notice the difference they can make to your listening quality.

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What does it take to become a good listener? Hearing is a physical ability, whereas listening is a skill that can be developed with practice. Being known as someone who properly attends to a conversation can help you improve and maintain good relationships. Try these eight ideas and notice the difference they can make to the quality of your listening:

Embrace silence. When somebody else is talking, focus on hearing their words. Avoid jumping in with your thoughts. It shows respect and will encourage the speaker to share their thoughts fully. Then you can ask questions and clarify your understanding. 

Relax your body, open your mind. Take some deep breaths and relax. Enjoy the sensation of listening. Be curious about what is said and notice how it lands with you. Put other thoughts out of your mind and concentrate on what is being communicated. Take time to be interested in the other person and their viewpoint. It will make all the difference to the quality of the conversation.

Put the speaker at ease. Show that the speaker that you welcome their thoughts. Inspire confidence to share what is on their mind by being respectful of their needs and concerns. You might nod, smile or use words that encourage them to continue. Maintain eye contact with a soft gaze. Show how you are making an effort to listen and understand what you have heard.

Be respectful. Don’t doodle, scroll your phone, play with your glasses or similar. Give the speaker your undivided attention. Put your phone on silent or divert calls. Suppose the conversation is taking place via a video call, close Outlook and any other apps to avoid unnecessary interruptions. You will find that the conversation goes so much better when both parties experience focused attention.

Listen to understand. Look at issues from their perspective. Let go of preconceived ideas. Being non-judgmental will help you absorb what is said, and objectively consider the consequences. If you disagree with something, then make a note and come back to the point when it is your turn to speak. Sometimes a conversation can get derailed early on because of a misunderstanding. Check your knowledge by playing back what you believe to be the issues.

Be impartial. Everybody has a different way of speaking. Give the speaker time to think and complete their communication. Some people like to pace while talking, and others want to sit still. Try focusing on what is being conveyed rather than critique the mode of delivery.

Notice speed, volume and tone. Listen for pitch and intonation when someone speaks to you. It will help you develop rapport as the effort means you will carefully attend their words.

Reflect and summarise. During the conversation, use the natural breaks in a speech to reflect what you hear. For example, paraphrasing key points. This technique ensures that you and the speaker are in accord. It doesn’t mean that you agree with everything said. Only that you are demonstrating that you are keenly listening to their viewpoint. Reflecting also helps you remember the crucial points and makes summing up at the end of the conversation more natural.

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Beverly Landais PCC

Certified Personal & Team Coach: enabling people to be at their resourceful best , www.beverlylandais.co.uk

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