How to Master the Art of Effective Listening

We have one mouth and two ears. This is no coincidence, it is clear that we should listen more than we speak.

However, many don’t see it that way. They never listen, at least not effectively.

Effective listening is a skill using multiple senses to comprehend the message being sent by the speaker.

It helps us to:

  • Detect and solve problems quickly: Listening is observing. It is alertness. People and circumstances usually talk about their problems (whether vocally or not). Listening helps you identify those problems and solve them in time.
  • Build a repository of knowledge: the more you listen, the more you know. The environment is constantly teaching us important lessons and listening, effective listening, helps us access that knowledge.
  • Save time and other resources: Effective listening helps prevent mistakes from wrong information. When you listen well, you act well. This alone would save time and other valuable resources from waste.
  • Become better team members: everybody wants to be listened to. It is a sign of respect. People who trust and respect each other are better team members than people who don’t.
  • Become better communicators: the more you listen, the more you know and the more you can tell. Effective communication lies strongly on effective listening. People communicate better when they know what to say and the best way to know is by listening.

Effective listening is an endlessly active process that requires attention.

But just like other skills such as writing, painting and singing, effective listening can be learnt with practice.

The following 10 steps have been found to help in mastering the art of effective listening.

  1. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
  2. Be attentive, but relaxed.
  3. Keep an open mind.
  4. Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
  5. Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”
  6. Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions.
  7. Ask questions only to ensure understanding.
  8. Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
  9. Give the speaker regular feedback.
  10. Pay attention to what isn’t said—to nonverbal cues.

Ending Notes

Effective listening is an essential skill for everyone. Good thing is it can be learnt with practice.

Don’t miss out on the enormous benefits it gives by imbibing it into your daily life. The above mentioned 10 steps would help.

I’d write a sequel to this post detailing each of these steps in future.

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