Career Development

How to Be a Good Listener

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Being a good listener means that you are attentive during a discussion while showing a genuine interest in sharing ideas. Developing good listening skills can help you become a better listener at work. This article shares some strategies that you might want to consider if you would like to become a good listener.

What is a good listener?

A good listener is someone who applies active listening and communication skills in their role at work. This can mean having effective listening skills, such as tracking the speaker, being attentive to body language and offering input when you are prompted. A good listener is someone who can also communicate effectively, with the ability to recognize when it’s their turn to listen rather than speak.

Why is it important to be a good listener?

Being a good listener is important because it can show that you have a genuine interest in communicating and building relationships with others. Being a good listener can also show that you are willing to seek an understanding of different perspectives and learn new things. This can be a highly important skill for developing in your career.

How to be a better listener at work

Here are some steps you can follow to guide your development in becoming a better listener at work:

1. First, use active listening techniques

First, start by developing your active listening skills. You might focus on specific techniques to help you practice active listening. For instance, during team meetings you might practice active listening techniques like maintaining eye contact with the speaker, following their movements (also called tracking), nodding when you agree with their statements and asking questions when it’s appropriate. 

2. Second, take notes to clarify information

As you practice your active listening skills, you can also develop your ability to take notes effectively. For example, you might take notes during employee evaluations to help you recall information your peers and superiors share with you. Additionally, taking notes can help cement a speaker’s presentation or speech so that you learn about and understand complex topics.

3. Third, ask for direction when you need it

You might also consider asking for additional support or direction when you feel you need it. For instance, asking for clarification on your role or an expectation your team leader has of you can show that you are willing to listen to directions and take initiative to seek out more resources when you feel it’s necessary.

4. Fourth, use paraphrasing to solidify information

After taking notes, you can briefly paraphrase the main points that were discussed during meetings or conferences. Paraphrasing can help you develop an understanding of the discussion you listened to as well as help you learn about new topics or ideas.

5. Fifth, carry out assignments as instructed

After following directions and taking notes to help you understand your responsibilities, carry out your work assignments just as you have been instructed to. For example, maybe your team leader has given you verbal instructions to finish a task that another employee left incomplete. You might practice your active listening techniques when receiving information and then follow up by fulfilling or exceeding expectations. 

Tips for becoming a better listener

Follow these tips to practice showing that you are a good listener:

Show your enthusiasm for listening to other people’s ideas 

You can show you’re listening by maintaining eye contact, smiling often and asking questions to further encourage your peers to share their ideas and concerns with you.

Highlight your listening skills on your resume 

Highlight your skills by providing examples of how you helped your coworkers solve problems or conflicts in the past.

Consider offering to be the note-taker 

Offer to take notes during meetings, workshops or conferences to show that you are committed to helping your coworkers gain deeper insight into the responsibilities and expectations of your team.

You can also show you’re a good listener by accepting feedback from your peers and superiors and applying their suggestions to your own improvement plan. For instance, you might ask for feedback on a project where you had to carry out complex directives to get insight on how well you performed following verbal instructions. The following examples of highlighting effective listening skills can help you develop your understanding of how to show that you’re a good listener.

Examples of being a good listener at work

The following examples can provide insight into what it means to be a good listener in the workplace:

Example of listening skills in a nursing career

As an example, a nurse who works in the operating room may usually depend on effective listening skills when performing their job. During surgeries, the nurse works with physicians and surgeons to carry out surgical procedures where listening skills are critical to performing their duties. Surgeons might communicate specific instructions that the nurse needs to hear and understand right away. Active listening, in this case, is an important part of the nurse’s skill set.

Example of being a good listener in customer service

In this example, a customer service representative must handle a call from an upset customer. The customer service representative may rely on empathy and compassion as part of their active listening techniques to help calm the customer first, and then ask questions to help the customer find a solution to their problem. In this case, the representative is applying their customer service skills, which can rely heavily on active listening.

Example of good listening skills in an internship

For this example, assume an intern is learning how to perform a new job. The intern must use their active listening skills to learn what is expected of them as well as the general details about the job to be able to carry out directions and assignments. During the internship, the intern uses effective listening as a way to gain a deeper understanding of what a career in the role would be like.