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How to Learn to Listen Better

By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Learn to Listen Better

One of the biggest human flaws is that we talk more than we listen. This is one of the most important problems when establishing a relationship of trust with others. When we speak, we like the the fact that the person in front of us is paying attention, but we should also pay them attention in return. Listening is a virtue that enables us to grasp what we hear, analyse the information received and make decisions or form opinions in a more objective way. If you have noticed that you tend not to pay attention, or if someone has told you that you never listen or do not let others speak, pay attention. In this OneHowTo article we'll propose some tips to help you learn how to listen better.

You may also be interested in: How to Be an Active Listener

Stop thinking about yourself

Although it sounds a little harsh, you need to know how to focus on others and know when to be attentive to them in order to help them. Similarly, it is important to concentrate when someone gives you an explanation in any context; otherwise, the other person may think you do not care about what they are explaining and may be offended. Normally there are two types of people that don't know how to listen properly:

  • Those who do not listen because it is hard to focus on what the other person is telling them. These are easily distracted, or tend to switch off from the conversation when someone else tells them about something they care about.
  • Those who do not let others speak, or constantly interrupt without letting the other person finish their explanation. These people always tend to think of things that happen to them, and do not care about what others are telling them. Instead, they always compare situations or experiences that come up in conversation with their own.

Try to come across as receptive

In a conversation, there are a number of verbal and nonverbal cues that show the listener is interested in what the speaker has to say. These are mostly involuntary and spontaneous, and show that you are following the conversation, and that you are interested in what you are hearing. So, focusing on adopting this set of signals will allow the other person to see that you are interested and realise that you are really listening.

Verbal cues

These are those sounds or words that we use whilst the other person speaks, without interrupting them. It is very easy to understand this kind of behaviour if you think of a phone call in which you cannot see the other person but you make small interventions so they know you're paying attention.

Nonverbal cues

In short, body language. You must look at the person, so that they see you are paying attention. Nod, use expressions to show that you understand the situation and are interested in what you are listening to. It is one of the most important aspects in learning to listen. In this article we explain how to use body language for effective communication.

How to Learn to Listen Better - Try to come across as receptive

Try to be empathetic

Empathy is the virtue of putting yourself in the situation of another person. This enables you to understand what they are going through, how they feel, and to be aware of many things that cannot be expressed in words. To do this, listening carefully is essential. Before giving your opinion, interrupting or respond hastily, think and try to understand what that person is telling you. Learning to listen is essential, as well as being effective in helping someone.

Talking more is not communicating more

Talking more is not equal to knowing more. Talking more does not imply being in charge. Talking more is not the same as saying more... So, it is better to say more with less than to talk a lot and say little. Reflect, think, turn it over in your mind and, when you have sorted the ideas in your head after listening, speak. Learning to listen better also helps what you say to make sense. Therefore, listening better allows us to express our opinions or thoughts coherently. The other person will see that we have understood what they have said, and you will be able to answer a useful response.

How to Learn to Listen Better - Talking more is not communicating more

Listen and give your opinion

On the other hand, learning to listen also involves knowing if the person is asking us for our opinion, or if they just want to explain a situation they have experienced. Some people may get upset if you give your opinion when not asked. Therefore, you need to know when you need to listen, and when you have to listen and give advice. Normally, a person who wants our opinion will ask us, while, at other times, we just need to listen, without going any further. This happens because sometimes people just need to let off steam and explain things without seeking help or advice. On the other hand, they may have a problem and are looking for someone's help, for advice or for someone else's point of view.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Learn to Listen Better, we recommend you visit our Learning category.

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