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How to be a Good Listener in Groups

Updated on February 19, 2011

Being able to listen effectively to others is a skill that can benefit someone in both personal and work relationships. Listening is a complex process where a person must perceive, interpret and respond to messages from others. Many times one or more of these aspects are missed, which greatly affects the ability to communicate effectively.

To be a good listener it's important to understand there are four different types of listening preferences and each has it’s benefits and disadvantages.

What Type of Listener Are You?

The “People” type of listener focuses on the relationship and emotions of the conversation. The disadvantage of this listening type is the listener can become distracted by the mood of others.

The “Action” type of listener will focus on the job or task at hand. This listener is more analytical and the disadvantage is relationship maintenance can be sacrificed because the task is the focal point.

The “Content” type of listener will analyze the conversation and focus on the facts. A disadvantage is the listener can become overly critical and be dismissive of any anecdotal information that does not directly connect to the topic.

The “Time” type of listener helps the group develop and stay on a schedule. The disadvantage to this type of listener is it may suppress spontaneity that could lead to creative outcomes.

What type of listening preference do you use most?

See results

Five More Tips For Group Listening

1. Be Prepared to Listen. Do the necessary prep work, any research or reading required before meeting in a group.

2. Shut Up and Listen already. Give the speaker a chance to explain his thoughts and ideas. Don’t control the conversation and ensure every group member gets an opportunity to express an opinion.

3. Be in the moment. Don’t get so caught up in what you’re going to say next that you don’t listen to what others are saying now. If you get a thought write it down and don’t interrupt.

4. Try another perspective. If there is division in the groups opinion give another viewpoint a possibility.

5. Ask Questions. Use questions to gain further insight into the conversation. This can also be used to help the quiet members speak up. Make sure to ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer.

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