Real listening communicates a level of empathy and compassion for the words and emotions expressed to you. People have the emotional need to be seen and heard. Here are some suggestions for doing better.


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1- Keep the Eye Contact


Looking everywhere except at the person talking makes it seem like you are not listening. Then the conversation suffers.


2- Stay Curious


By asking questions and noting detail, you demonstrate that the speaker retains your interest.




3- You Don’t Need to Fix It


You need to intentionally quiet the voice in your head that’s itching to “solve”. Often there is no solution or the speaker isn’t asking for one.


4- Know Yourself


If you know it’s a common tendency of yours to misinterpret, you can be a better listener by recognizing that and asking questions.


listening skills


5- Hold It


Do not ignore your own emotions and thoughts. That would be self-invalidating. Simply hold them for later reflection.


6- Ask Open-Ended Questions


This approach is helpful because it continues the narrative and invites discussion. Do your questions further the dialogue?


7- Watch Body Language


Keep an open posture, face the speaker, lean in and watch your hands and your expressions. Pay attention to the speaker’s body language too.


8- Do Not Force Yourself to Listen


If you are busy, let the person know and offer a later time to meet. If the issue is too upsetting, also let them know.


listening skills


9- Come Back From “Side-Trips”


It is very common to start thinking about other things. Acknowledge the distractions, but then return to focus.


10- Repeat Back


You show that you are fully engaged by repeating back important information to prove that you understood and captured the speaker’s language.


11- Share


You may choose to share similar situations or your own views. Only do this after you are certain you have understood what was communicated.


Most people are born with a sense of hearing, but listening is an acquired skill you can train. The enormous benefits of making someone feel listened to is a good way to motivate yourself to improve.


Do you need help? Call (510) 497-4174 to schedule a free consultation with one of our psychologists.


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