The Art of Listening

“Listening” is the Foundation to Good Communication

Many of us think that communication is talking; but good communication requires good listening, as well as talking. People don’t realize the necessary skills required to be a good listener. To be a good listener, we must first pay attention. The remainder of this article will focus on “attending” skills as well as how to be an “active” listener.

An active listener should be aware that their listening skills will be affected by their own mood, level of concentration, exterior environment and relationship to the person talking. Below is a list of 10 simple steps to be an effective listener:

  1. Be sure you can hear the speaker.  To be an effective listener, you have to be able to hear clearly what the other person is saying.

  2. Attempt to listen 75% of time – speak 25% of time.  Allow the person to speak and direct the conversation. If you, as the listener, ask too many questions, you could be directing the conversation and averting the thoughts of the speaker.

  3. Engage in non-verbal communication/ physical cues.  This includes our posture, physical movements, eye contact and our psychological presence.

  4. Don’t try to judge or give solutions. Your brain works four times faster than a speaker’s voice. Thus, your brain can easily leave the speaker behind. Instead, trust that you will know how to respond to the speaker when the speaker is done.

  5. Be aware of the speakers tone and mood. Is the speaker’s tone nervous, excited, relieved, happy, sad, etc. Differentiating the speaker’s mood and seriousness helps the listener to empathize with the speaker.

  6. Focus on the central ideas, not on all the facts.  If you notice the major ideas, then often the facts “come along” with those ideas.

  7. Allow the speaker to finish main points that he/she wants to make. Do not interrupt – offer your response when the speaker is done. If you do have to interrupt, do so to ensure you are hearing the other person. Interrupt tactfully.

  8. Reflect back and ask if you are hearing accurately. Inquire from the speaker if you have understood him/her correctly.

  9. Periodically acknowledge that you are listening to them. For example, nodding your head, saying, “Yes” to short points that you agree with.

Ira Grotsky

Ira Grotsky holds duel degrees in psychology and Special Education and works as a mainstreaming specialist and Play Therapist. He has helped many individual with ASD, ADD/ADHD, Anger Management and Social issues.. Ira maintains a private practice in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh.and Modiin. He can be reached at [email protected] or 054-441-0256.
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