Brian Farrell · Coach

How to Become a Better Listener

When listening to someone speak, are you tuned-in? Or are you using the time they’re speaking to prepare your own reply?

Woman listening to another woman.You're also not listening if:

  • You interrupt (e.g. “sorry for interrupting you…”)
  • You’re giving advice (e.g. “you should…”)
  • You reply as soon as the other person stops talking

Our comprehension, attention and retention plummet if we're doing anything but listening. Here are some tips to silence the internal conversation in our brains and listen better:

  • Make a "listeners promise" to yourself to let go of your own thoughts and focus only on hearing the other person.
  • Pause, for a few seconds, before saying anything. Uncomfortable? Yes. Yet silence gives the other person a chance to finish their thoughts. Silence may also surface information otherwise stifled.
  • Take notes. If you sense you’re problem solving, look to your notes. When it’s your turn to speak, ask ‘is there anything else about…?’ choosing something they mentioned.
  • Put your phone away, or better yet, turn it off!

Practice and pay attention to your listening success rate. Pause before replying. Most people want to feel heard, so give them the chance!

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