We take time to develop skills that we believe are important to our lives, like job skills, parenting skills and financial skills.
But there’s one skill that impacts every aspect of our lives—yet we often don’t bother to master it.
When we learn this skill, amazing things happen…
- We make new friends effortlessly
- We advance in our career
- We become better parents and partners
- We learn more about the world
- We’re able to help others more effectively
- We have greater self-esteem and feel more confident
- We have a better memory
Sounds great, right? So what’s this magic bullet I speak of?
That’s right, becoming a better listener leads to a whole bunch of great benefits. People simply want to spend more time with us, strengthening our work relationships and our personal relationships.
We get that promotion or we close that important account. We become the most popular person at the party, because everyone wants to feel heard.
And as a result, we have greater self-esteem, feel more confident and can look at the world from a broader perspective.
It’s such a simple way to develop trust and nurture our relationships, yet most of us are not good listeners.
It’s not because we’re bad people. It’s just because we forget.
Think about it: When was the last time you talked to someone and truly felt heard? How did that make you feel?
You probably felt important and valued, and it probably endeared you to that person even more. You may have walked away from that conversation feeling great—and wanting to talk to that person again.
On the flip side, when was the last time you talked to someone who only talked about themselves the whole time—and never asked you a single question about yourself? How did THAT feel?
You probably wanted nothing more to do with that person!
In “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie shares the story of when he attended a dinner party and met a botanist.
He was so fascinated by the botanist that he spent all night just listening intently to him. The few times Dale talked, he asked the man for advice on his own plants.
At the end of the evening, the botanist told the host that Dale was “most stimulating” and a “most interesting conversationalist.”
He barely talked, yet the botanist walked away thinking he was an “interesting conversationalist”!
All because Dale truly listened and was genuinely interested in what he had to say—which was rare in the 1930s when Dale published that book—and is rare today.
But the good news is, it’s not hard to do. Just follow these 6 tips to become a better listener:
1. When talking to others, don’t just wait for your turn to speak.
So many of us do this. We smile and nod, yet instead of really listening and trying to understand what the other person is saying, we’re just waiting for a break in the conversation so we can speak.
Everyone has an interesting story to tell or an insight to share. Be genuinely fascinated in what they have to say.
If someone is talking to you about a problem they’re having, don’t assume you know what they are going to say next. Listen fully to what they have to say and then speak.
2. Do not interrupt.
If becoming a great listener makes people want to spend more time with you, the one thing that will make people want to spend LESS time with you is being an interrupter!
There is nothing more frustrating than talking to someone who won’t let you get a word in. Only talk when it is your turn.
3. Listen with your whole body.
In person, use your body language to show people that you are listening to them. Look them directly in the eye, nod and lean in.
If you’re talking on the phone, say things like “mhm” to let them know you’re following along.
4. Give people your undivided attention.
When talking to someone, pay attention to them and only them. The only thing you need to do is listen to what they’re saying.
Let all distractions go. That includes looking at your phone while they’re talking to you! Keep your phone in your pocket or purse where it belongs.
The person you’re talking to is the most important thing in the world at that moment—let everything else go.
5. Ask follow-up questions.
Asking follow-up questions like “What was that like?” will show the person that you are paying attention and are interested in what they have to say.
It will also encourage them to open up more to you, deepening your relationship.
6. Practice, practice, practice!
Keep this at the front of your mind until it becomes second nature. Remind yourself every day that you are going to listen fully to everyone you encounter that day.
Being a good listener isn’t difficult, you just need to remember to do it!
What will you do today to improve YOUR listening skills? What makes you truly feel heard in a conversation? Leave me a comment and let me know!
There’s no easier way to improve your relationships and make new ones than being a rockstar listener. Start practicing today!