Here are 6 steps to help you become a better, more effective listener.

Transmitter: the person talking or transmitting the message
Receiver: the person receiving the message 'listening'

Step 1. - Understand what listening is

Sounds basic and obvious, but I bet you know someone who says they're a 'good listener', when they never, ever, give you the impression they are listening to you!

"I can listen to you, and what's going on in the other room, and what those two behind us are saying!" they proclaim.

REALLY! I don't think so!!

They may be able to hear, but there is a clear difference between listening and hearing. Poor listeners do not get this, do you?

Step 2. - Understand the types of listening

There are different types of listening, that if you understand can help you become a more effective listener. Good listeners understand this.

Step 3. - Adopt a listening mindset

Quite simply, to listen, it's important that you want to listen and are interested in the other person's view. If you enter a conversation desperate to make your point, you will inadvertently stop listening to the other person.

It's about having a mindset of, I value your views and I will 'hear listen them out'

Dr Stephen Covey put it so succinctly:

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply."
Dr Stephen Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

Don't fall into this trap, take the opposite mantra.

Step 4. - Look like you are listening.

If we do not display the right kind of facial expression and body language, the transmitter may get the impression we are not listening.

Here's 3 things you can do right away to show you're listening, we explain more in how to demonstrate are active listening

  • Nod
  • Use facial expressions
  • Ask a question
  • Give eye contact

Step 5. - Prove you are listening.

We can help the transmitter, by proving that we are listening. The following will help you demonstrate this:

  • Replay back what's been said
  • Verbally support
  • Make notes

Step 6. - Summarise what's been said

Not just at the end of the interaction, but regularly throughout. For example if it is a 1 hour meeting a couple of summaries will help at the end of each agenda item.

The following is excessive summarising:
Person A - "What a lovely blue sky today, I think we should go for a picnic by the river"
Person B - "So summarising, it's a lovely day, and we should go to the river for a picnic"
This sounds a little obvious and patronising, the point is clear, so no summary would be needed. Just a confirmation of "Yes, that sounds great, what time shall we go?"

Happy Listening!

3 people showing how to listen

About the author

phil laviolettephil laviolette

Hi!, I'm Phil LaViolette, Founder and Owner of evalu8d. I created resourcily to share hints, tips and resources I've collected over 20 years of training and coaching, across lots of industries and at all levels. I hope that, even in a small way, you gain from the tools I share!