6 Steps to being an Effective Listener

One of the key skills of an effective communicator is to be a good listener. You can learn to be a good listener with a little practice and attention to the following practical tips:

1. Listen with purpose. Ask yourself what it is you want to find out and what it is you expect or want to hear. What might the speaker say that will affect your preconceived ideas or plans?

2. Listen for meaning. There are several levels on which people communicate. There are the words themselves and the implications behind the words—nuance and tone of voice. There are also nonverbal cues – posture, facial expression, gestures, and so forth. It is important to listen with your eyes as well as your ears, to listen for what is not said but felt.

3. Eliminate distractions. Whenever possible you should give your undivided attention to the speaker. You want the speaker to have the opportunity to express him or herself without distractions.

4. Don’t jump in. Try not to reply too quickly. Instead, briefly restate what you heard to make sure you understood it. Then, formulate your reply and respond. Even though you think quickly and may already have a response in mind, it pays to listen until the other person has finished so that you don’t miss anything.

5. Don’t listen with pre-conceived ideas. It is very easy to have a stereotypical perception of someone, especially if you do not work with them regularly, the good communicator always let the fact speak first and the opinions later.

6. Be an active listener. Involve yourself in the listening process. Be aware of your own listening barriers and guard against them. Take the time to become aware of your thoughts and reactions.

Did you know? People speak @ 100 to 175 words per minute but can listen intelligently @ 300 words per minute. No excuse there then for not being a good listener!

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