Listen Up: Six Tips to Become an Effective Listener

It’s easy to talk. However, listening can be more of a challenge. So, how do you become a good listener, or improve your listening skills? Here are some tips to consider in order to develop strong connections with others and create meaningful conversations.

When it comes to having a meaningful conversation, it is a two-way street. How often have you spoken with someone and felt like they weren’t paying attention to you? Or, on the other hand, you feel like you are the only person in the world. I can guarantee I can guess which interaction is more pleasurable.

Eye contact is key

An effective way to show that you are listening is to maintain eye contact when engaging with someone. A good rule to follow is the 80/20 rule. This is where 80% of the time is spent with your eyes meeting the other person and the other 20% is spent with your eyes roaming as you listen and gather information.

Pay attention

It’s easy to become distracted during a conversation. You must make a conscious effort to keep your mind on topic and prevent it from drifting. Ensure that you are making a valid effort to stay present and fully absorb everything that is being said to you. This will help you to respond in a manner that makes the speaker feel appreciated and understood.

Provide feedback

No, I’m not talking about waiting for your turn to talk. Make a point to not only give verbal cues like asking questions and replying, but also pay attention to your nonverbal cues. Things like nodding and smiling are ways that you show that you are engaged, listening and fully immersed in the moment.

Woman listening

Be empathetic

Being a good listener also means being able to put yourself into someone else’s position and see the situation from their perspective. This doesn’t mean that you will always fully relate, but your efforts will make an impact. It’s important to convey that you care and that you are invested in the situation.

Pay attention to body language

When speaking with someone, make sure that your body language speaks volumes as well. By showing you are open with your body language, people are more likely to engage and express their feelings. Lean into the conversation, keep your hands in your lap and remember to keep your arms uncrossed. You don’t want to appear as closed off and disengaged.

Don’t be defensive

It’s easy to hear things that are favourable. However, listening to something negative can be more challenging. Effective listeners don’t block out criticism. Rather, they take what is being said and use it to do and be better. Taking a minute before responding is the best way to ensure you respond and receive the information accordingly.

When you leave a conversation with someone, you want to ensure that you have created a positive experience for all individuals involved. A good listener makes others feel supported and validated. By creating an environment where people feel safe to express themselves, you are more likely to build lasting and meaningful relationships with others.