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How To Improve Communication Skills By Listening

Updated on August 31, 2010

"If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener."  That advice comes from self-help expert, Dale Carnegie, in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People.  The easiest way to improve communication skills, therefore, is to listen. 

Listen to the others taking part in your conversation before you speak.  Listen to repeat stories.  Listen to the person's full sentence and point.  And don't forget to listen with genuine interest. 

You can improve your communication skills simply by following these "listening" tips:

  • Let the other person go first.  You may have a lot to say, but so does the person you are talking with.  Let her have her say first, and once she finishes, she'll be more open to hearing your topics of interest.
  • Start conversations by focusing on the other person.  Instead of unloading your problems on a friend as soon as you see him, ask about his day first.  This will make the other person happier and put him in a more receptive mood to listen to you.  Also, it will help calm you down and allow you to focus on what is really important to convey.
  • Do not interrupt the others.  Finishing the other person's sentence does not earn you any points.  You will not appear smarter.  You are likely to jump to the wrong conclusion.  And you are likely to earn the other person's resentment.  Let them speak uninterrupted.
  • Listen to repeat stories.  Everyone runs into those people who retell the same old tales and restate the same old arguments over and over again.  Instead of tuning them out or informing them you heard the story already, listen anyway and ask questions that you haven't asked before.  It may expand your own horizons and theirs too. 

Now you know the secret to improve communication skills and some tips to help you attain that goal.  So, take time out today and pay someone one of the "highest compliments possible" according to Dale Carnegie:  listen to that someone attentively and with genuine interest.


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