How to Become a Better Listener


August 15, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Listening to people is a fine art that needs to practiced. If you are like most people, then chances are you often interrupt others while they are still talking. In your defense, you could say that a long-winded, one-sided conversation is the quickest turn off ever, and while this might be true, it just shows basic respect for the other person when we are prepared to listen to them without consistently interrupting their speech.

A typical example is Larry King. I’ve been watching a lot of Larry lately after the Michael Jackson fiasco and noticed he always interrupts his guests. I find this very rude. I do realize that he probably has to stick to some fast-paced schedule, but still, his abrupt interruptions are not really cool, nor are they professional.

As it stands though, none of us ever likes to be interrupted anyway. If it does happen, we tend to feel ignored, overlooked and unappreciated. So how can we still get our message across while becoming a better listener in the process? If you like to try this yourself, then please read on:

  • Take turns
    Failed discussions are almost always interpersonal related. It is during the process of screaming at the kids or arguing with our partner when we fail to listen to what the other party has to say.

To help navigate the mental minefield in such a situation it helps to give each person/party its own turn where they can speak for a minute or two, telling what’s on their minds while you listen. After their time is up, it’s your turn to speak. It works!

With a bit of training and a willingness from both sides to give this a fair go you will actually resolve matters a lot faster because instead of trying to out-shout one another to get heard, everyone can have their say in relative peace, allowing easier conflict solving.


  • Remove your prejudice
    How often do we shut off to another person’s message just because we don’t agree with them? We do it all the time. Since we are human, we all have our own opinion on things. That’s perfectly fine. But you know as well as I do that everything has two sides. Remember, yin and yang, good and bad, right and wrong!


By removing our prejudice to actually listen to what the other person has to say we remove self-imposed brain blockages and open ourselves up for proper communication with the other party. You should try it, because you might be surprised what you learn during the process.


  • Practice eye contact
    A discussion without eye contact is like a body without a soul. Something lacks – a personal touch. If you are guilty of shutting off to other people’s talk, could it be because you don’t make eye contact with them while talking to one another?


Granted, this is hard to do when speaking on the phone, but the next tip might help you in those situations.

Practice eye contact when you speak with someone the next time. Initially it might be hard because many people are actually uncomfortable looking into each other’s eyes. However, it will be worth your while because in doing so you establish a new intimacy between the people involved and I’m almost willing to guarantee that this will help to form a better bond between you.


  • Show courtesy
    To me, courtesy is a life essential. I was brought up to show courtesy to others. This helps when we speak with people on the phone. However, there are situations when you just can’t listen to someones rambling any longer. The worst real life situations are call center calls. In that case, firmly tell them you are not interested to hear what else they have to say and if they ignore your plea, then hang up the phone.



  • Silence is key
    Sometimes, saying nothing says so much more. The messages you tell when you are silent can be read in your body language, so be careful how you hold yourself at the next staff meeting.


By being silent and observing what the other person has to say we learn to pick up on their energies and the messages they DON’T speak. This is a great tool if you work with people, because you can gain a deeper insight into their personalities by being a better observer.

What are your favorite listening tips? Feel free to share, it’s your turn to speak.

Written on 8/15/2009 by Monika Mundell. Monika Mundell is a passionate freelance writer and pro-blogger. Her blog Freelance Writing helps new freelance writers to get started in this exciting industry. If you like to work with Monika, feel free to visit her Portfolio site. Photo Credit: sflaw

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