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The Fine Art of Listening- Learn the Fine Art of Listening

Updated on March 17, 2014

Inconsistency in verbal communication

A good listener can easily pick inconsistency in what the speaker is saying, the pitch and tone of his voice, disjointed narration and lapses point at hidden meaning, inconsistency in communication can reveal if the person is lying or telling the truth.

Listening attentively to a conversation without getting distracted at every sound allows the listener pick up simple flows and inconsistencies, if someone was hiding something or telling a fib the story would be full of inaccurate dates, street names, location and time. The listener easily recognizes the inconsistencies for what they are; it could be brought about by over excitement on the part of the speaker or straight up lies.


Having a meaningful conversation is part and parcel of communal living; we have developed conversation through the spoken word so we can communicate our feelings and thoughts effectively. Conversation can be casual, intense, work related or just fun but to get the full meaning behind the words we need to listen attentively.

Listening does not only involve hearing what the other person is trying to communicate but understanding the thought behind the words accurately. This is the art of listening, not paying attention to what the speaker is saying and getting lost in our own thoughts have happened to all of us at one time or the other, so its common place listening yet not getting the message.

Something on Verbal communication

The fine art of listen needs the listener to use his entire sensory organs to put meaning to the spoken word, using another sensory organs like your eyes increases the perception of the listener. For example when the speaker is supposedly relaying happy events and telltales signs of tears are in his eyes, then the words are at variance with the speakers words and might indicate discomfort or hidden meaning.

The eyes when used during a conversation can catch sweaty palms, poor eye contact-which means the speaker is hiding things, sweat droplets and facial expression, all these subconscious actions tells the listener that there is more to the conversation than the speaker is willing to divulge.

Talking on the wall

Talking on the wall
Talking on the wall | Source

Two birds singing at the same time

Two birds singing at the same time
Two birds singing at the same time | Source

Encourage the speaker to talk

Good listeners encourages the speaker by giving a portion of yourself to the conversation, after satisfying a connection by listening attentively the speaker can be further encouraged through gesticulation. When there is a pause in the conversation the good listener can make a continue sign to encourage completion of the speakers narrative.

While the conversation is going on a simple nod shows the speaker affirmation on the part of the listener or encouragement to the speaker, even a slight touch could pass the message to a close acquaintance or friend to continue speaking.

Following sound alone doesn’t convey meaning but the actual words and the way its spoken would determine the context in which the words are delivered.

The listener should focus on the speaker

Giving all of your attention to the speaker is not only good manners but relays to the person interest in what he is saying, focusing during conversation is one of the hardest parts of listening, the reasons that cause distractions are many. Distractions abound such as your favorite soccer game going on the television, the radio playing your favorite song, external sounds like a distant siren, a baby crying, some dogs barking and many others sounds.

Concentrating on the speaker by giving full attention to the words helps eliminate external distractions and allows the listener focus well on the conversation at hand. The listener giving full attention to the speaker shows good manners and proper behavior.


Talking | Source

An open mind and study the speakers expression

He can combine expression, gesticulation

The good listener can use facial expression to encourage the speaker communicate effectively, during the conversation if the speaker says something funny it is not out of place to smile. Facial expressions relay to the speaker that the listener is actually following his trend of thought.

Adding gesticulation further increases the listening process by emphasizing on certain words spoken during the conversation, by using both gesticulations and facial expression the listener effectively shows the speaker that he is listening.

The Listener should be open minded

The effective listener should be open minded and take into consideration what the speaker is saying, even if the listener has a different view to the speakers it is only good manners to hear him out. Contrary ideas do not mean a listener who pays attention to a conversation might learn something new and unexpected. Being disciplined and respectful to the communicator allows the conversation flow freely.

By having an open mind the listener tends to acquire new information and learn new things about the speaker, an open mind gives room for better understanding of the subject matter.

How not to listen

Which of the under-listed is bad listening culture

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The listener should avoid Interruptions

Listening without interrupting is just good manners by allowing the speaker make his conclusions the listener gets a better idea of what the speaker is saying, interruptions make words disjointed, incomplete and sometimes meaningless. The art of listening involves being patient with the speaker even when the conversation is boring. Interruptions hardly allows the speaker communicate effectively during a conversation.


Patience we know is a virtue, so true when applied to the art of listening; the listener should be patient with the speaker irrespective of the length of the conversation. Some people can talk for hours and even days if not interrupted, so a good listener should patiently endure the boring conversation before delicately and respectfully making his escape.

The good listener having the patience to tolerate any kind of conversation show respect and feelings for the speaker allowing the person free expression of his inner thought.

Listening allow an exchange of ideas

Listening allows an exchange of ideas because by acknowledging the connection through conversation and listening without interruptions, the listener hears and understands the verbal interplay thereby allowing a free flow of ideas. In order to exchange ideas successfully the listener should focus entirely on the conversation and interject only when necessary.

The whole essence of communication is to learn new things, it helps us become more useful in our working environment and also enjoy our leisure time with loved ones. By listening and encouraging the speakers while understanding his words helps the good listener exchange ideas and add to the conversation.

The art of listening

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The art of listeningListening ear
The art of listening
The art of listening | Source
Listening ear
Listening ear | Source

Good and Bad listener

good listener
poor listener
encourage the speaker
listen attentively
lack of communication
avoid distractions
poor clarification
avoid iterruptions
no eye contact

Understand the tone of his voice

A recent documentary I watched showcased how important tone of voice is to our every day living, the scientists setup a simple experiment in a busy station where a man stood within a big square. Any time someone walks through his square in the middle of a busy walk way he accosted the person by telling them to move out of his square

The man was told to speak in low base tones while accosting the passers bye who wandered into his square, while speaking in low tones the people generally ignored the man and continued on the same path but when he was told to use very high shrill tones surprisingly everyone obeyed him and some even apologized unconsciously.

The effective listener should understand and interpret the tone of the speaker in order to understand the meaning or emotion behind the words, how the words are said and the tone is a great indication of the emotions associated with the conversation. Effective listening involves not only understanding the words and emotions behind them but by listening to the tone, emphases and vocalization to get the true meaning of the conversation.


The art of effective listening involves the under listed characteristics

1 The good listener should be good at verbal communication

2 Being able to detect inconsistency in the words is critical to listening

3 Always encourage the speaker to talk or finish his sentence

4 The listener can use gesticulations to ensure continuity and communication

5 Studying the body language adds meaning to the speakers words

6 Be totally focus on the speaker and avoid distractions

7 It is not out of place for the listener to use facial expression to show interest.

8 Be open minded about the conversation even when you have contrary views

9 Try not to interrupt the flow of conversation

10 Prejudice and preconceived notions about the speakers is bad manners

11 Communication is all about exchanging meaningful ideas.

12 Listen to the tone of his voice it could indicate the emotion behind the words

13 Non verbal messages is as important as verbal words

14 Always seek clarification on important messages and instructions

Non verbal communication and verbal message

The listener can easily read meaning to a speaker’s non verbal communication; words are not the only way communication is received. For instance an agitated animal might launch a mock attack as a signal of intent that says back off or you’re going to get hurt. The listener job is to see the non verbal signals by paying attention to the communicator, sometimes words might have an opposite meaning than the context in which they are delivered.

If someone is being friendly but the eyes a threatening then the non verbal communication means stay away from me while the verbal words are the opposite. Paying attention to the message and understanding the verbal and non verbal communication is the bedrock of effective listening.


Having preconceived prejudice against the speaker works against the listener because the full meaning of the words are lost to false notions, good manners mean the listener should give the speaker some credibility before a clear conclusion. Prejudice could be misplaced because second hand information can easily be misrepresented casting the speaker in bad light even before you met, only judge the speaker by his own words and not third party information.

The art of Listening

Seek clarification

The listener should always seek clarification on certain points; making poor conclusion based on half information is just plain bad listening. Before making a conclusion a listener should ask the speaker questions especially in areas where their has been a communication lapse, seeking clarification casts light on certain instructions or meaning making the speakers intent and words clear.

Ineffective listening

The ineffective listener interprets the words wrongly, they interrupt continually and are easily distracted form the conversation, non verbal communication is entirely ignored and the speaker might be forced to repeat his words. Lack of concentration, prejudice, misrepresenting the tone of the speaker’s voice is just pointers to having a bad listening habit.

Bad listening would lead to poor conversation, lack of patience, misrepresentation of the conversation and lack of focus, bad listening habit has much negative effect on the listener and in some cases could cause the person his job.

Last word

Most people hardly pay attention to the spoken word especially during conversations, the meaning is lost and the communication lacks substance. The good listener pays attention without interrupting, keeps good eye contact and maintains studious focus; the expression of the speaker is noted including the body language.

By maintain a quiet disposition and paying full attention shows the speaker that you care about his thoughts and views, honesty and empathy translates to good intention, the listeners aim is to put the speaker at ease so communicating and conversation is established.

So to develop your listening technique you need to have good verbal communication, encourage the speaker so he can express himself and the listener (you) should focus on the conversation. Facial expressions are part and parcel of communication, use signs and gesticulations, and refrain from interruptions, exchange ideas and seek clarification to certain discussions.

The art of listening is important in our everyday life it can be fun and quite rewarding, so why not develop your listening skills and discover a new world of knowledge.


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    • word55 profile image

      Word 4 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks for sharing tony. That sounds like the most practical way to learn. You can't go wrong that way. -:)