How To Be A Good Listener

How To Be A Good Listener for Effective Productivity

The process of effective communication encompasses passing and receiving information. Listening forms an essential part of the receiving process and is arguably the bedrock of effective communication. Employees, individuals, or workers who are good listeners tend to do better at tasks, projects, or as part of a team. In contrast, poor listeners often miss out on valuable information and struggle to deliver when given tasks. Listening is also beneficial to supervisors, employers, and the organization as a whole. You tend to make better judgment and make good decisions as a boss when you cultivate the habit of good listening.

The art of listening has been adjudged to be one of the essential skills to have; it promotes job effectiveness and improves the quality of human relationships. Given that listening is part of our daily life and routine, one will assume that we are good at it, and have mastered it effectively. However, that is not the case; research has shown that most employees, individuals, or bosses only remember 25% to 50% of what they hear. Invariably, this means that whenever you have a conversation with your coworkers, siblings, friends, or employer, they only pay attention to half of the conversation at most. In addition, it also implies that whenever you are given instruction at work or school, you only pay attention to half of it, and hope the most important part is captured there. But what if they’re not? All hope is not lost though; because for every problem, there is a solution.

Evidently, listening is a skill we can work to improve on; improving your listening skills has a lot of personal and general benefits. Being a good listener reduces misunderstandings and conflicts in the workplace. In relation, becoming a better and more effective listener makes you more productive, improves your persuasion and negotiation skills, and makes you more influential. All these are essential components of workplace success.

One way of sharpening your listening skills is by practicing and adopting active listening. Active listening involves making a conscious effort to listen to the complete message being relayed and not merely hearing words being said. In order words, active listening involves you letting the other person know you’re listening to what he/she is saying, by being attentive, maintaining positive energy, and abstaining from coming up with counter arguments.


Why Do We Listen?

There is a myriad of reasons for listening; however, this has been summarized into four main points. These include;

  1. Listening enables you to obtain or get information and instruction.
  2. The process of listening helps you understand and decipher given information.
  3. Also, listening enables you to enjoy the conversation.
  4. Listening enables you to learn from given information.


What To Do To Be A Good Listener

The following are techniques and things to do to be a good listener at work and during conversations;

  • Always pay attention.
  • Use positive body language.
  • Provide feedback, respond appropriately and follow up.
  • Refrain from interrupting whoever is speaking.
  • Avoid comparing the person’s experiences to yours.
  • Maintain eye contact.

Always pay attention: The first step to becoming a good listener is by being attentive when having a conversation or discussion. Keeping your mind off distractions is vital to becoming attentive. Your entire focus should be on whomever you are having the conversation with. When your boss or co-worker is passing an instruction or information, endeavor to be present both in thought and in person. Avoid environmentally induced distractions as well. Another way of being attentive is by practicing the art of mindfulness when engaged in a conversation. Also, understand that non-verbal communication speaks loudly, so pay attention to that as well.

Use positive body language: You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. A good listener’s body language is open, they lean forward and express curiosity about what is being said.  Even in cases where the conversation doesn’t interest you, always maintain positive body language. Your gestures and body language tell if you are listening or not. Therefore, nod occasionally, smile, and use other facial expressions, which show the speaker that you are actually following the conversation. Relatively, your posture should be one that depicts your interest and openness to the conversation. You can occasionally use words like “yes” or “perfect” for example, to show that you’re actually in sync with the conversation.

Provide feedback, respond appropriately and follow up on conversations: Giving feedback after conversations is another way of being a good listener. Good listening is designed and meant to encourage understanding and respect. You are certainly gaining perspective and information from another person or group of persons. Ensure your response is appropriate; you add nothing by trying to put the speaker down. Always be candid and honest when responding, and assert your opinions respectfully. Following up on conversations is also vital in good listening; it shows that you were genuinely part of the discussion.

Refrain from interrupting whoever is speaking: While growing up, we were taught that it is rude to interrupt. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the norm anymore. Certainly, the opposite is being modeled on the majority of talk shows and reality programs, where loud, aggressive, and in-your-face behavior is condoned. Interrupting a speaker shows arrogance and paints your lack of interest in the conversation. To be a good listener, refrain from interrupting people when they are speaking even though you have valid reasons to. Also, avoid making suggestions when someone is talking; if you have a brilliant idea that can help the organization, you can politely ask to speak once the speaker is done.

Avoid comparing the person’s experiences to yours: Our personal filters, assumptions, judgment, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. Though you may think comparing your experiences with that of the speaker is the best way to go, experiences and research have shown that it is not. For example, if a colleague is talking about dealing with a death in the family, you can share some wisdom, but avoid saying “that’s exactly how it was with me”. Although you may have the best intentions, this may come off as offensive or insensitive, especially when you compare something really serious to your own less intense experience. In addition, avoid using words like “I” or “me” a lot; this is a good indicator that you’re focusing more on yourself than on the person’s situation.

Maintain eye contact: Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listeners reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down while they are passing information. A speaker wants all eyes on him/her. It lets them know that what they are saying is valuable. To be a good listener, make sure you maintain constant eye contact with your speaker.



The benefits of being a good listener cannot be overemphasized; it broadens your network and enhances your connection with people. By listening attentively to people and making them feel like the information they are sharing is valid, you build deeper, stronger, and more honest relationships with them. In an era when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, good listening skills are critical. Hence, adhere to the tips above, and your journey to becoming a good listener will be easier.

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