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Becoming a Better Listener

Listening to people is a fine art that needs to be practised. If you are like most people, then chances are you often interrupt others while they are still talking. In your defence, you could say that a long-winded, onesided conversation is the quickest turn off ever, and while this might be true, it just shows basic respect for the other person when we are prepared to listen to them without consistently interrupting their speech.

As it stands though, none of us ever likes to be interrupted anyway. If it does happen, we tend to feel ignored, overlooked and unappreciated. So how can we still get our message across while becoming a better listener in the process?

  1. Stop talking: Put yourself in the speaker’s shoes so you get a deeper understanding of where he or she is coming from and what is driving him or her to say what he or she is saying. Sometimes, saying nothing says so much more. The messages you tell when you are silent can be read in your body language. By being silent and observing what the other person has to say, we learn to pick up on their energies and the messages they DO NOT speak. This is a great tool if you work with people, because you can gain a deeper insight into their personalities by being a better observer.
  2. Focus on using inviting body language, such as making eye contact, uncrossing your arms, and turning your shoulders so you are facing the person speaking. Avoid thinking about what you are going to say next. Instead, create memory triggers to assist your recall.
  3. Be open- minded and avoid passing judgment on the speaker. How often do we shut off to another person’s message just because we do not agree with them? We do it all the time. Since we are human, we all have our own opinion on things. That is perfectly fine. But you know as well as I do that everything has two sides.
  4. Remove your prejudice. By removing our prejudice to actually listen to what the other person has to say we remove self-imposed brain blockages and open ourselves up for proper communication with the other party. You should try it, because you might be surprised at what you learn during the process.
  5. Stop doing other things — all other things — while someone is speaking to you. A discussion without eye contact is like a body without a soul. Something lacks – a personal touch. If you are guilty of shutting off to other people’s talk, could it be because you don’t make eye contact with them while talking to one another? Granted, this is hard to do when speaking on the phone, but the next tip might help you in those situations. Practice eye contact when you speak with someone the next time. Initially, it might be hard because many people are actually uncomfortable looking into each other’s eyes.

However, it will be worth your while because in doing so you establish a new intimacy between the people involved and I’m almost willing to guarantee that this will help to form a better bond between you. Participate in active listening by encouraging the speaker with nods and affirmative words. Take what is being said at face value and avoid focusing on the “hidden” meaning. Ask for clarification to get a better understanding of what was said.

Do not interrupt. When it is time to ask your questions, summarize and repeat what you heard before asking the question. When it gets down to it, and when you take the busy nature of life into consideration, listening is hard. But we all have the same struggles and the same opportunity for improvement.


Listening is defined as applying oneself to hearing something. In verbal communication, listening is to hear while giving attention to what is being said. It is an ability that can be cultivated and practised into a skill. From this standpoint, it can be viewed as an art. As a public speaker, it is an art to be mastered. To listen, really listen, we have to hush our internal monologue and put effort into hearing what the other person is saying. It takes real effort and energy to listen like this – actively listening, listening with engagement. It is far more than sitting passively while someone else talks.

Becoming a better listener involves being genuinely interested in what the other person has to say. Listening is not only about just keeping quiet when the other person is talking, or being nice and courteous. It is about understanding and remembering what the other person says. That is the only way to understand the other person, build a relationship, resolve any conflict, and offer a solution. Indeed, listening is really the best way to sell your ideas when engaged in any public speaking event.


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