Top Ten Listening Techniques

ListenerListening seems like a simple process and yet so many of us are more eager to talk than to listen. Someone once said we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Communication is the most important business skill. Without two-way communication there is no understanding of client needs, business needs, and employee needs. Communication must always be two-way. To be really happy at work everyone needs to be heard. Here are some tips for good listening techniques:

  1. Stay present – Don’t let your mind wander. Many people compose a response while the speaker is still speaking.
  2. Make eye contact – Let the speaker see your interest by regularly making eye contact.
  3. Ask questions for clarification – This is not your time to respond. Get really clear about what is being said. If you don’t understand, ask questions in an open non-charged manner.
  4. Acknowledge feelings – If the speaker is telling you something about his/her feelings, acknowledge them. You don’t have to agree to show that you see the speaker is upset or unhappy about something.
  5. Restate or paraphrase – Make sure you are getting the information the speaker is presenting by periodically repeating what you hear in different words from the speakers. “Let me see if I’ve got it so far?”
  6. Covey says, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood” – Before you state your thoughts and ideas make sure you totally understand and acknowledge the speakers thoughts.
  7. Give nonverbal feedback – While the speaker is speaking, be sure to smile, nod, frown, shrug your shoulders, or raise your eyebrows – whatever is appropriate.
  8. Be Silent – Don’t be afraid of this. Periods of total quiet will allow you and the speaker to think about what was said. When you are sure the speaker has completed his/her thoughts on the subject it will be time for you to comment.
  9. Take in all the information both verbal and nonverbal – Focus on the meaning of what is being said and also what is not being said. There may be a lot of emotion behind the words being said. Be sure you understand the emotion and what is causing it.
  10. Get permission – Sometimes people just want to be heard. At other times they are seeking advice. Give advice only when requested and only after the person has had a chance to give you the whole story. If you are not sure, ask if the person is looking for your input.

Do you wish your boss or co-worker would read this list?!

So many of us are frustrated because we feel we are not heard by our boss or coworker. If this happens to you, a coach can help you to get the attention you deserve. I remember once asking myself, “Am I invisible? Is she deaf?” I felt ignored and miserable. What about you? I can help you to find your solution to the problem. One size does not fit all here but thinking about it with a coach will help you come up with your own clear solution. I’d love to help you. Call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at


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