How to be a good listener

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Being a good listener is a great skill to have in personal and professional relationships, but it can take a bit of effort to master in today’s high-tech, fast-moving society.  

Listening is important.

According to Forbes Magazine

  • 85% of what we know we have learned through listening 
  • Humans generally listen at a 25% comprehension rate 
  • In a typical business day, we spend 45% of our time listening, 30% of our time talking, 16% reading and 9% writing 
  • Less than 2% of all professionals have had formal education or learning to understand and improve listening skills and techniques. 

The benefits of being a good listener 

  • Builds stronger relationships 
  • Helps with problem solving and decision-making 
  • Helps avoid conflicts and misunderstandings 
  • Leads to better information sharing 
  • Helps you to see things from the point of view of others. 

How do you become a good listener? 

The Live Bold & Bloom website has some good tips for sharpening your listening skills: 

  • Remove or avoid distractions. You guessed it, turn off that cell phone, laptop or radio. Take a moment to anticipate possible distractions. 
  • Watch for non-verbal communication and tone of voice. Learn the art of reading what people are really saying beyond their words.  
  • Be the mirror. Mirroring a person’s tone of voice and speech pattern helps build rapport. Repeating things back can also help make sure you’re on the same page. 
  • Empathise, sympathise, and show interest. You can show your interest and connection in a conversation through your own expressions, body language, and words. 
  • Practice silence. A verbal response isn't always necessary, and leaving a space of silence invites the speaker to offer more of what they are thinking and feeling. 
  • Ask probing questions. Try to avoid questions that leave only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, but avoid an interrogation technique as well. 
  • Don't interrupt or change the subject. If you want to be a good listener, you need to allow the speaker to complete a thought without interrupting them. 
  • Think before responding.

Becoming a good listener is a skill that needs to be practiced, but it’s worth the effort as people tend to gravitate toward a person who listens for their opinion and feedback. Employees respect managers that listen well. It’s a skill that gives you the edge in your career and in all of your relationships.