What Makes a Good Listener?

Becoming a good listener will help you build better relationships and your business.
How do you become better at listening to people, follow these easy steps:

  • Give your full attention to the person who is speaking.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Make sure your mind is focused on what the speaker is saying. Do not let your mind wander. If you feel your mind wandering, change your body position while maintaining eye contact. Concentrate on what the speaker is saying.
  • Minimize external distractions. Turn off your cell phone, do not put it on vibrate only and put away any material you may be holding. This lets the speaker know you are fully engaged in listening to what they have to say.
  • Let the speaker finish before you begin to talk. Try this technique: always wait 2 full seconds before you respond, even if you know half way through their comments what your answer will be.

How do you feel when someone interrupts you? Speakers appreciate having the chance to finish without being interrupted. When you interrupt someone it looks like you really don’t care what they have to say. Don’t make your comment or response more important than what they said. Remember, your comments are based on their statements. Make sure you understand what they are saying, not what you think they are saying. If unsure, ask follow-up questions for clarification. (see below)

  • Be sure to listen, because you can’t really listen if you are busy thinking about what you’re going to say next, right? 
  • Ask confirming and probative questions (we will discuss examples of probative questions in another blog. If you are unsure of what point the speaker is trying to make, ask them. An example is “let me see if I understand you correctly”. This shows the speaker that you are listening, but you need clarification.
  • Take Notes. If you want to remember something specific and important that the speaker is saying write it down. You may even want to ask the speaker, do you mind if I take notes, before hand. This shows the speaker that you are listening and care enough to make a note of what he or she is saying.
  • Mirror the speaker’s body language. It has been said that communication is 97% nonverbal. Take time to learn this hidden art and you will capture much more of the message than what is being said. More importantly, reading between the lines  helps you understand what wasn’t said.  If the speaker is sitting back with their legs crossed and arms folded in their lap, you should do the same. This subconsciously shows the speaker that you are listening to them. They are more apt to open up and speak candidly with you.
  • Have empathy with the Speaker. If you listen with your heart not your head you will listen more clearly, because you will not be thinking of yourself but rather about the speaker.
  • Use your body language to show the speaker you are engaged. Occasionally nod. When appropriate smile, laugh or frown. These all let the speaker know you are listening and in tune with what is going on. Your facial expressions show that you are listening. Also respond when appropriate such as “Really,” “Interesting, I follow you… I see your point” as well as more direct prompts: “What did you do then?” and “What did she say?” Watch your hand gestures, palms up, fist clenched, shaking of head, askance look to the side. Know what they imply and mean.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Yes practice your listening skills. Every time you are engaged in a conversation practice your listening skills. Don’t wait for the “important” conversation. You cannot determine which conversation will be the important one or the one that leads you to your next prospect. Practice effective listening skills with every conversation as it is critical to becoming a good listener.

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