Four Easy Ways to Become a Better Listener

by | May 2, 2023 | Leadership

As humans, we generally have multiple conversations throughout the day. Some are just casual conversations we have in passing, some are professional—all are important. And rather than learning how to speak, we also need to focus on becoming a better listener.

Because we speak to so many people in varying capacities, we tend to form habits (some of which are great, and some not so great). Our bad habits are often so subtle that we don’t even realize we’ve formed them, like listening to respond rather than listening to absorb new information.  

Here are a few ways you can naturally become a better listener, while creating more intentional conversations in the process.

Keep your phone out of sight and out of mind. 

A person puts their phone in the front pocket of their pants.

Listening is harder when we’re distracted. Unfortunately, our cell phones are one of the biggest distractions out there.  

When you hear the familiar chime signaling a new text message, it’s likely that you’ll start wondering who is trying to reach you, even if you don’t check the notification right away. This will automatically take your attention away from any conversation you’re having at that moment. Not only should your phone be out of sight, but it should also be in silent mode. 

Be sure to silence other devices, too, like smart watches. While these serve as a convenient way to keep us connected to everyone in the world, they can also double as an added distraction.  

Ask more questions. 

A person holds a piece of paper with a question mark on it in front of their face.

Humans naturally like to talk about themselves. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be in certain situations. If you find that you’re guilty of taking over conversations or making them all about you, try asking more questions.  

This is an easy way to show that you’re invested in what the person is saying and that you’re eager to learn more. They will naturally feel more inclined to continue speaking to you just knowing that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. 

Take a look at this article for 10 questions that will help you spark more stimulating conversations

Be aware of body language.

A bulldog with a sad face lays on the ground.

A great listener shows interest in the conversation by doing things like nodding their head or leaning toward the speaker. Although these tactics may seem like they would go unnoticed, they can be extremely effective when it comes to showing you care about what someone is saying. 

Maintaining good eye contact will show that you’re focused on what the speaker is talking about. But let’s be honest, eye contact is also somewhat of an art and may require some practice. Read this article to learn how to make non-awkward eye contact (we were all thinking it). 

Say no to judgement.

A piece of paper has “No” written on it, next to a box with an “X” in it.

It’s easy to talk to someone when it appears that your feelings and thoughts are being valued. That’s why it’s essential to be a non-judgmental listener and stay away from selective hearing.  

Listen to the speaker in the most open and understanding way possible, and only offer advice when you’ve been asked. This will make them feel more comfortable talking to you now and in the future. Ultimately, these kinds of open and honest conversations could also lead to a generation of more meaningful relationships. 

Be a better listener by serving others!

Listening to others is one of the best things you can do for both your personal and professional development. Not only is listening the sign of a great leader, but it also helps you obtain new information that could aid your growth.  

Good listening skills is all about serving others. Check out our blog post on “How to Practice Servant Leadership,” to discover more ways on how to be a servant leader.