The Quick Report

10 Simple Tips to Become a Better Listener

Being a good listener is important for strengthening all forms of relationships — from friendship to professional to romantic. This essential skill allows others to trust you and remain open, while helping you understand others more deeply.

10. Provide Full and Undivided Attention

support group listening

Looking away or looking at your phone are all signals to the speaker that you’re not listening. Further, it communicates disinterest and can be insulting and disrespectful to the person speaking. Make eye contact with the speaker to signal them that you are listening and eager to hear what they have to say.

9. Practice Active Silence

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Active silence means attentive listening. When a speaker pauses, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should speak. They may be taking time to gather their thoughts, as well as articulate their words. Often, the speaker will give you a nonverbal cue when they are ready for you to respond. Look for those or wait for the speaker to ask.

8. Be Patient

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Allow the person speaking to express themselves in the manner of their choosing. Be patient. Don’t cut them off, rush them, or ask them to “get to the point.” Allow them the courtesy to be heard. Don’t send nonverbal cues that you’re tired of listening to them by looking away or at your phone.

7. Avoid Interrupting

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Interrupting someone breaks their train of thought. Granted, sometimes we want to jump in and respond to something they’ve just said so we don’t lose our thoughts. However, the speaker may have been leading somewhere and your response is coming before you’ve even got the whole picture. To avoid jumping to conclusions, don’t interrupt.

6. Be Present

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When someone is telling us something we already know or don’t want to hear, we can sometimes let our minds wander. Not only is doing so disrespectful to the speaker, but you can miss something important that can cause you to draw an incorrect conclusion. Stay present and focus on what’s being said as well as the speaker’s nonverbal cues.

5. Use Nonverbal Cues

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Just as nonverbal cues signal to the speaker when we aren’t listening, we can purposely use nonverbal cues to show the speaker we are paying attention. Nod in agreement. Use facial expressions to demonstrate concern, empathy, genuine interest, and active engagement. Also utilize open body language, such as unfolding your arms and legs.

4. Show Empathy

two women talking over tea

Good listening involves not only hearing but also feeling. As you listen, try to put yourself in the shoes of the speaker. Seek to gain an understanding of their perspective and emotions. Consider what they may be thinking or feeling. Use verbal responses and nonverbal cues that express compassion and empathy.


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3. Reflect and Paraphrase

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When it’s finally time to respond, show that you are paying attention by summarizing what you have heard. Rather than assume you’ve understood them, try a phrase such as: “So what I am hearing is…” This signals you’ve listened to them and you’re seeking understanding. This invites them to provide clarity.

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2. Ask Clarifying Questions

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Another way to demonstrate to the speaker that you’ve been engaged with their words is to ask them to clarify or elaborate on their points. This takes the conversation to a deeper level rather than you being only a passive listener. Not only does this show you were paying attention, but it expresses your interest in becoming actively involved. 

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1. Don’t Judge

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Everyone’s entitled to express their personal opinion. When you are judgmental over what someone says, you may dissuade them from sharing their true thoughts. Instead, approach all conversations with an open mind. Allow yourself to learn by understanding the speaker’s perspective.

Read More: 7 Ways to Be a Happier, Better Person