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How To Become a Good Listener

Updated on September 5, 2011

Ferris Bueller once said, “Life movies pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” In this day and age, this advice truly needs to be taken, especially when it comes to people. We have been so worried about our own problems that sometimes we forget about others and their situations. We need to slow down, take a break, and listen to the people around us. In this hub, you can learn how to be a good listener and use it in everyday situations.

1. When confronted by a person, stop what you are doing.

When we are doing a task, we like to concentrate on it and make sure it is done efficiently. However, sometimes we have tunnel vision and block out everything else when completing the task in hand. For example, if you are doing the dishes, whether it’s at home or at work, and a person comes to you and advises, “Hey, remember to soak the pan before you wash it. The sauce is really sticky.” If your tunnel is still up when they talk to you, not only are you making yourself work harder, but other people have to work harder as well. When confronted by a manager or a friend, break down the walls of the tunnel and pay attention to what you see and hear. Look at the person’s posture. Are they slouching? Are they standing straight? Do they look depressed or excited? Every detail is important.

2. Don’t listen selectively.

Nobody likes someone that seems to jump into a conversation without knowing what they are talking about. It irks people more when they try to tell a person something, and they go off on another subject based on ONE word. For example, when a friend is talking to someone about a problem like their bike is broken and they can’t fix the brakes, a selective listener would say, “In a week or two, I’m going on spring break!” Yes, the person heard the word, but he/she didn’t hear the rest of the conversation, only paying attention to the only part that seemed to relate to him/herself. When talking to someone, unless if necessary or asked, don’t randomly add something about yourself. The other person is like a teacher; listen to them and you will learn something. If you listen, you get a reward and if you don’t, you will fail.

3. Don’t give advice right off the bat.

Everyone wants advice when they are in trouble or getting critiqued on their work. With advice, they will grow smarter and stronger. However, when faced with a problem, if you give advice before you hear the whole story, it not only angers the speaker, but it makes them feel that you are not willing to listen to their problems. Here’s a very short story example. A little sister sits down next to her brother and starts to talk about her problem; she and her best friend are fighting. It is over a guy, but the brother doesn’t know that because instead of asking why, he advises, “Maybe you should let her cool off.” The sister gets upset and walks back to her room. The brother seemed to have good intentions, but he needed to know the root of the problem before taking care of it. It’s like arresting a person before asking about forensic evidence. Wait until the speaker is asking for advice to give it.

4. Always ask questions.

I personally don’t believe that there is no such thing as a stupid question, but I do believe that when you don’t know something, you always ask a question. You will never know what you are doing unless you ask. Let’s go back to the sister story; the sister says that she and her best friend are fighting. The brother asks, “Why are you fighting?” The sister explains that they are fighting over a guy and the brother asks more questions like, ‘how do you know this guy?’, ‘what is he like?’ ‘how long has this been going?’ By learning what is going on, you have the story and evidence to solve the problem if asked what to do about it.

5. Remember what people say.

Not only it shows that you are a good listener, it shows that you are caring and courteous, and truly thinking about the other person. If you miss small details that were recently added to your brain, like they ate cereal for breakfast, it’s all right since it happens sometimes to everybody. It also happens when we are supposed to take somebody to work or an outdoor activity, but we were too busy with our own work to remember. We just need to be reminded about the situation. Now, if you forget someone’s birthday, like your sister’s or parents’, that is not a good sign. Get some memory boosting lessons online and it could help with remembering things from big to small.

With all these tips and paying attention to details, physical and verbal, you will improve your listening skills and your people skills at the same time. We have ears for a reason.

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