Five Ways to Become a Better Listener

By Julie Haldane

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These five tips will help you become a better listenerThink of a time someone helped you express more deeply by listening to you.  What happened?  When was the last time you did that for someone else?

Listening is More Powerful than Talking

One of the roles I love most at Interact is being a video coach. After an on-camera session, each individual slips into a private room with me to watch their video.  I don’t tell them what to look for. I ask them what they are seeing and I listen deeply. This creates an environment that allows people to express insights.

I am honored to have breakthrough conversations with our clients on a regular basis. I am a listener who opens the door for greater self-awareness within the learner.

Five Ways You Can Become an Empowering Listener:

  1. Don’t fake it. Good listeners have high regard for people. Practice knowing that everyone has something important and interesting to say. Surrender just a couple of minutes to being available.
  1. Greet people warmly and use your eyes to connect. Never under-estimate the impression you make within seconds of meeting someone.  You can communicate interest or ambivalence.
  1. Ask great questions that go to your curiosity and sincere interest. Be like a reporter, writing a fascinating paper on that person.
  1. Be aware of your body language that might suggest you’re leaning in the other direction, preparing to walk away. Let people know you’re happy to be right there with them in that moment.
  1. Offer an insight or two of your own to demonstrate that you’re hearing them

What People Say About Not Being Heard

Listening is the electric chord that connects us, but we’d rather be talking, texting, working, shopping and doing other things. It seems we’ll do anything, so long as it doesn’t require stopping to listen. I think this is because we think of listening to people as being passive or inactive when our culture values doing.

In our workshops, we invite people to pair up and participate in an exercise that demonstrates how communicators “run out of gas” when their listener suddenly looks away, disengages and pulls out their smartphone.  When we ask the speaker how it felt when their listener looked away, the responses include:

  • “I lost my train of thought.”
  • “When they looked away, I felt discounted.”
  • “I was unable to continue.”

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