Five Crucial Tips to Improve Your Listening Skills

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Having good listening skills can’t be underrated. It’s a significant skill to have for not only communications professionals but for everyone.

Yet in a world where we are bombarded by numerous distractions, being an active listener does not come easy.

It takes a conscious and intentional effort to be a good listener. A skill I admit that I continue to practice.

Here are some tips I believe helps in enabling one to be a better listener.

Take Notes while Listening

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As a lover of words, the pen and paper are always my favorite things. When actively listening, it matters for you to take notes.

I process mostly through writing so by taking notes, it helps me to register the information that is being passed to me.

Taking notes not only helps me to process but it helps me to remember what information was being relayed.

You can be attentive without taking notes but as life happens and you get about the business of your day, it’s easy to forget things.

By taking notes and often having records of meetings, you keep information fresh on your mind.

Turn off Phone Notifications

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One of the reasons why listening becomes hard to do is because we are often bombarded by many distractions in the world.

A big distraction that affects us is that of social media. There is something happening on social media every second. Maybe a friend is celebrating a birthday, you get a notification. Maybe someone has posted a news update, you get a notification.

To be less distracted by social media, turn off the notifications on your phone. I’ve done this and it gives me peace of mind.

To turn off my phone notifications does not mean that I am detached from the world. I still engage on different social media platforms.

However, I do so by directly checking on the platforms when I choose to rather than seeing multiple notifications each minute.

Ask Questions While Listening

Another good strategy to make you an effective listener is to ask questions while listening. In addition to taking notes, if something needs more clarification, ask a question.

Asking a question helps to reinforce the knowledge that is being shared to you.

It also helps to ensure that you have a better understanding of what is being communicated.

When you don’t understand a point being made, always ask. That way, when you go back to your notes, you don’t become confused about certain information that was passed.

Be Mindful of Your Bias

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Your ability to listen effectively to what is being communicated can be influenced by bias. We all have some form of bias and we need to be aware of it so it doesn’t affect our listening.

A simple example would be a tea lover as opposed to coffee. If someone is advocating to have a coffee shop, you would be more engaged in the conversation because you know that is what you enjoy.

However, if an individual is talking about coffee and you know that you dislike coffee, you might not be actively listening to some valid points about the benefits of coffee.

Because you carry a bias of preference, you might easily tune out to what the coffee advocate is saying.

This is a basic example to not stir up to many controversies but the point of the matter remains that we all carry bias and you have to check yourself to not let your bias impact your ability to openly and actively listen to a point of view that you may not agree with.

Consider Your Environment

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Considering the environment that you are in can also greatly affect your ability to listen.

When having meetings or informal interviews, you should pick the right setting.

The right setting is an environment that is not noisy or too busy. The right setting is an atmosphere where you are comfortable and not distracted by all that is going on.

Cafes and bookshops are my favorite places to be at because often not, they are quiet.

Final Thoughts

Listening does not come easy to all. It’s an important and difficult skill to master. The way to build your listening skill is to make an intentional effort to be more present and engaged during the process of communication.



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Isioma Ononye

Isioma Ononye

I write about finding yourself, developing your self-esteem, faith, mental health and communications. Email me at I tweet @isiomaononye