Last Updated on April 14, 2021 by Lori Geurin
Find out how to be a better listener with these 10 easy tips to improve your relationships and boost your confidence.
According to sound expert, Julian Treasure, “we are losing our listening.” He says “we spend roughly 60% of our communication time listening…but we retain just 25% of what we hear.”
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What Is Listening?
Listening is making meaning from sound. It’s paying attention and making an effort to hear something.
Good listeners are great at hearing and interpreting a message when communicating. If you’re not able to listen well, it’s easy to miss the message the other person is trying to convey.
In his Ted talking on listening, Treasure says, “conscious listening creates understanding…A world where we don’t listen to each other at all is a very scary place.”
Using the tools below can help you become a conscious listener, feel more confident communicating with others, and improve your relationships.
10 Tips On How To Be A Better Listener
1. Don’t be a mind-reader.
When you’re having a conversation it can be easy to make assumptions about what the speaker is saying.
But, because we’re all human, a lot can be misunderstood or left out when you assume things without checking in with the other person.
Avoid this trap by paraphrasing what they said and asking plenty of questions for clarification.
2. Practice silence.
Treasure says that having 3 minutes of silence each day helps reboot your ears and recalibrate your hearing so you can hear the quiet again.
Getting comfortable with silence can also help you develop more patience an important quality you can apply when you’re having a conversation.
3. Improve your eye contact.
Keeping good eye contact with the speaker helps you focus on what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.
Plus, it communicates that you care about what they’re telling you and you value their perspective. If you’ve ever had a conversation with someone who is looking everywhere but at you, then you know what I mean.
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Treasure shares a useful acronym to improve your listening skills.
- R – receive; pay attention to the person speaking
- A – appreciate; make little noises to show you’re listening; (like oh, mm-hmm, and okay)
- S – summarize; share what you heard them say
- A – ask; ask questions to clarify your understanding
5. Listen to your environment.
In this exercise, simply take a moment and focus on all of the sounds around you. Now, try to pick out each individual sound (birds chirping, water running, horns honking) and focus on them one at a time.
Practicing this can improve the quality of your listening.
You may also enjoy listening to relaxing sleep music to help you fall asleep faster.
More Good Listener Tips…
6. Eliminate distractions.
We’ve all been there. You have something important to say, but the person you’re talking to is so distracted from scrolling their social media feed that they aren’t giving you their full attention.
This is incredibly frustrating and can leave you feeling rejected and angry.
So try to remember this when you’re listening to someone else and put down your phone. Not only will it make the speaker feel more heard, but you’ll feel better about yourself too.
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7. Listen for ideas.
A good listener wants to understand the speaker’s ideas.
This approach involves expanding your focus instead of just concentrating on the details of what’s been said.
Try not to get hung up on the specifics, but read the speaker’s body language and overall message.
8. Enjoy listening to mundane sounds.
This technique, from Treasure, involves focusing on ordinary sounds in your home or office and finding enjoyment in them.
From listening to the sounds of your dryer tumbling to your espresso machine whistling, he calls this practice listening to the hidden choir.
9. Practice healthy wellness habits.
You may be wondering how embracing healthy habits relates to being a better listener. Stick with me on this while I explain…
When you eat real food that nourishes your body it helps you think more clearly and have more energy. And taking time out of your busy day to exercise releases feel-good hormones that help you stay alert.
Staying healthy and active keeps your mind strong so you can be tuned in and follow a conversation.
Getting outside to enjoy some fresh air can help you improve your focus when you need to listen.
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10. Be present in the moment.
Being present means showing up for the other person without a personal agenda. It means being intentional and focusing only on the “here and now.”
When we’re having a conversation it’s easy to get distracted by all the things. But, focusing on active listening can help you stay present and mindful.
Being fully present allows you to stay curious about the speaker’s intent and unique perspective.
Is Being A Good Listener Attractive?
In a study published in the journal Science Of Nature, researchers found that being a good listener is attractive, especially for guys who want to attract a lady.
Researchers at the University Of Melbourne studied how moths communicate. They found that female moths release sex pheromones to attract the best-quality males for mating. And the males who were better at responding to the female’s signals had a greater chance of attracting a mate.
Medical Daily concludes that even though this study was done with moths, it can carry over to the human world too. They say it’s not surprising that female humans would be attracted to good listeners like the insects in the study.
When a male picks up on cues from a female (like flirting), females find that attractive. Obviously males can find good listening skills attractive in females too, but this quality seems even more inviting to the gals (at least where moths are concerned).
Why Is Listening Better Than Hearing?
Listening is better than hearing for a couple of reasons. Hearing is just receiving sound in your ear.
But listening is active and intentional. When you listen, your ear receives information. Then your brain interprets that info to help you understand what the other person is saying.
Listening takes effort but hearing is passive.
(You may enjoy this how to be a better listener Ted talk.)
Why Is Listening So Important?
Good listening helps you show you care about the thoughts and feelings of others. It’s a key skill for maintaining good relationships.
Plus, being a good listener helps you understand other perspectives and experiences you may not have heard before. It broadens your horizons and plays a crucial role in personal growth.
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Books On How To Be A Better Listener
Here are a few books about listening you may want to add to your reading list.
1. How To Be Heard: Secrets For Powerful Speaking And Listening, by – Julian Treasure
2. Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High, (one of my personal favorites) by – Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
3. Power Listening: Mastering The Most Critical Business Of All, by – Bernard T. Ferrari
4. Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art Of Persuasion, by – George J. Thompson
Summary: How To Be A Better Listener
Whether you’re wondering how to be a good listener in a relationship or at work, practicing these good listening skills will help you upgrade your good listening skills.
Being a great listener doesn’t happen overnight. It’s like a muscle that needs flexing. You have to work the muscle in order for it to get stronger.
Practicing these techniques will help you improve your relationships with others and be more effective (and well-liked) in every area of your life.
What are your tips for being a better listener? Share them below!