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Effective Communication: Tips on Being a Good Listener

Updated on April 10, 2013

Do you ever walk away from a conversation feeling as though the conversation didn't go well? Are you left with a nagging feeling that you said too much or you didn't say enough?

I have realized that I may be talking too much in an effort to keep the conversation going. For example, if someone is talking to me about an issue that they are facing then I offer up my own story. In my mind I am just relating to the issues that they are facing. However, I recently read that to be a good listener, you are doing just that, listening! More specifically, when you keep chiming in with your own stories you can make the speaker feel as though what they are saying doesn't matter. That is never my intention! Since then I am a lot more mindful of my conversations when it is obvious that I just need to listen and be there for that person.

Why Should I Be a Good Listener?

Mastering the art of being a good listener can benefit you in many areas of your life!

  1. Career- Being a good listener in your career, helps you make informed decisions. You also show respect by listening, whether it is your supervisor or those that you supervise.
  2. Friendships- You are showing your friends that you care about them and are interested in their lives.
  3. Parenting- Most importantly, you are showing your children that what they have to say is important and you are modeling to them what it looks like to be a good listener!

Simple tips to being a good listener:

  1. First and foremost, REMOVE ALL DISTRACTIONS. Here, I mainly mean cell phones. This day and age, most people are CONSTANTLY on their phones. How would/do you feel if someone is playing on their phone while you are trying to have a conversation with them? Are they making you feel important or like they couldn't care less what you are saying?
  2. Make eye contact! Having eye contact shows the speaker that you are interested in what they are saying and they have your full attention. The speaker isn't left wondering if you are listening to them or thinking about your grocery list.
  3. Ask questions. These questions should be directly related to what the speaker is talking about. Ask questions to clarify what the speaker may be talking about. Ask questions to show empathy, "How does that make you feel?" Ask questions to gain more details.
  4. Stop talking. Ah, the area where I am most guilty. If you are constantly thinking about your response during the conversation, how much are you actually listening to? Resist the temptation to share your own story and experience!!
  5. Be patient. When conversations are difficult it sometimes takes the speaker awhile to share what is on their mind. You do not want to give the impression that you are trying to get through the conversation as fast as possible. Let there be silence. The speaker could be taking time to think about what they need/want to say next. By being patient you are showing the speaker that you are there to listen, no matter what!

Will you join me in becoming a better listener? You never know what other people are dealing with or maybe just how much they need to talk to someone....anyone. You may be their saving grace that day. By being a good listener ourselves we are showing others what it looks like to listen attentively. Maybe this person, if they don't already, will carry this skill into their next conversation.

Good listeners are very easy to spot during a conversation and many people enjoy talking to them!! I've met a few excellent listeners in my life and these friends had a great way of making me feel special!

Do you consider yourself a good listener?

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    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      I fell into the No category on the poll, but I think I need to work on this. Most of the time I just assume that people don't want me to get involved in their lives, but sometimes there are people crying out for help who take my aloofness as meanness, which is not how it is intended. Good advice.

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing, midget38!! :)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      I agree. I get annoyed when I am trying to get someone to hear what I have to say and the person keeps on talking. Distractions also keep us from being good listeners! Sharing, Stephanie!

    • mr-veg profile image

      mr-veg 5 years ago from Colorado United States

      Nice one Steph, good listening is more important in communication than expressing oneself !! Patience is the key and you have rightly highlighted it out here !!

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 5 years ago from United States

      Toknowinfo, thanks for reading!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      This is a very practical hub that reminds us all about the value of listening. I wrote a hub on listening a while ago, so I completely agree with you about how important it is to acquire and use this skill.

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 5 years ago from United States

      Kidscrafts, thank you so much!!! :)

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Excellent article Stephanie! Listening is so important and indeed now it seems that less and less people take the time to really listen!

      I think that the most important point is "stop talking" to give room to the other person to talk and take the time to really listen tho what the person is really saying.

      Voted up and awesome!

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 5 years ago from United States

      Mhatter99, thank you! I agree, being a good listener is a huge factor in being successful! :)

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Being a good listener was one of my success factors in the charity business.

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 5 years ago from United States

      LKMore01, thank you! I love the quote!!!!!

    • LKMore01 profile image

      LKMore01 5 years ago

      At a previous customer service job one of my favorite motivating team chatroom quotes was " You were given one mouth and two ears so that you listen twice as much as you speak." Thank you, Stephanie for reminding us that listening just as writing or public speaking is a skill that people learn. It has to be taught. Voted up!

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 5 years ago from United States

      Billybuc, thank you! I agree, I almost wrote in my hub that these days people are in too big a hurry! Slowing down long enough to listen to someone can definitely make that person's day! :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hooray for you writing this hub. Is it my imagination or are there fewer and fewer people who know how to listen? It seems like everyone is either in too big a hurry to listen or they are so wrapped up in their own lives that they could care less what someone else is saying. Whatever the case may be, I hope a couple hundred million people in the U.S. read this hub. :)