You might feel like you’re a good listener—but are you, really? It’s an important quality to have, both as a leader and a human being. Unfortunately, in this fast-paced world that’s full of distractions, it’s not always easy to lend your ear the way you should.
Whether you’re distracted during a conversation (even if that’s quickly checking notifications on your phone), jump in with your responses too quickly, or aren’t fully present, these are the tips you can use to up your listening skills. They’re not just great in the workplace, either—they’re also crucial when having conversations with your family, friends, and beyond.
How to Be a Better Listener
1. Stop Multitasking
There’s no way you can fully listen to what someone is saying if you’re scrolling through your phone at the same time. The next time you’re having a conversation, focus on what the person is saying—and make that your only focus. It allows you to be fully present in the conversation, as well as shows the other person that you’re invested and care about what they’re telling you.
2. Stay in the Moment
How often are you already crafting a response to what someone is saying while they’re still talking? That instantly takes you out of the moment and prevents you from listening to—and fully understanding—what the other person is saying. Instead, keep your head in the conversation and give them your full attention, then respond after you’ve heard everything they need to say.
3. Make Eye Contact
You’ve probably found yourself in a situation where you’re trying to talk to someone who’s not making eye contact. It instantly makes you feel like what you’re telling them isn’t important, or that they don’t care. When you maintain eye contact while someone is speaking, it reassures them that you’re listening and keeps you focused in the conversation.
4. Don’t Interrupt
It’s tempting to jump in and give your input during a conversation. Just make sure it’s the right time to do so—otherwise you may be cutting someone off before they’re finished saying what they need to say. When you wait for a cue from them instead of jumping in the second you hear a sentence end, you’ll wind up with a much more deep and meaningful conversation.
5. Pay Attention to Body Language
When you’re truly listening to someone, you aren’t just paying attention to the words coming out of their mouth, but also their body language. You can learn a lot by what someone is doing while they’re talking to you, whether it’s nervously biting their lip or sitting relaxed and comfortable. Whatever you notice can help you respond better to what you’re being told.