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How to Be a Good Listener

Communication is a two-way street that will quickly become a dead end if no one is actually listening.


  • Step 1: Ask and then listen Ask a question and then quietly and patiently listen to the entire response. Don’t give your opinion unless asked. Stay focused and avoid rehearsing a response in your head – people can sense that.
  • Step 2: Maintain eye contact Maintain eye contact while the person is speaking.
  • TIP: Don’t stare, which might make someone uncomfortable, but do look interested.
  • Step 3: Pay attention to body language Don’t cross your arms – make sure your body language is open and welcoming. Likewise, observing their body language can give you clues to what they actually mean.
  • Step 4: Summarize Summarize what they’ve been saying after a natural break in the conversation. This will let them know you heard them and give them a chance to correct any misunderstandings.
  • TIP: If you really don’t understand what they’re saying, tell them. Faking it won’t do anyone any good.
  • Step 5: Focus Focus on the other person and what they’re saying. Try to refrain from telling stories of your own. If you do, be brief and bring the attention back to them.
  • Step 6: Empathize Empathize with them and try to see things from their point of view. If that is difficult, at least show respect and don’t be judgmental. Arguing may leave them feeling misunderstood and frustrated.
  • TIP: Ask pertinent questions if you sense they want feedback or are having difficulty articulating their thoughts.
  • Step 7: Be grateful Let them know you are grateful they came to you and opened up about their issue. Saying something as simple as 'thank you' can make someone’s day.
  • FACT: Study shows that doodling while learning helps you listen better than those who didn't doodle.

You Will Need

  • Patience
  • Eye contact
  • Focus
  • Empathy
  • Gratitude

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