What qualities makes a good listener?
Take a moment to think of the best listener you know – someone you really feel you can talk to and who truly understands you.
Now think about what makes them such a good listener.
What do they do that lets you know they are listening to you?
This page looks at the skills you need to become a better listener.
Hearing vs Listening
According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the definition of Hearing is “to perceive sound with the ear” whereas listening is “to consider with thoughtful attention.” So, hearing is a physical thing, but listening is a cognitive response to what has been heard.
Barriers to listening
There are many barriers to hearing and listening. Listed below are the most common barriers:
Barriers to Hearing
- Background noise
- Health issues
Barriers to Listening
- Lack of interest
Results of poor listening skills
The results of poor listening can be many and varied, but chief amongst these are:
- Lost opportunities
- Wasted time
Characteristics of an effective listener
Effective listeners display many characteristics. They:
- Must be an active listener
- Evaluate speaker’s words and feelings
- Put themselves in speaker’s shoes
- Feedback what they think the speaker means
Effective listeners listen with their ears, eyes, head and heart!
Keys to effective listening
So, how can you be an effective listener? By applying the following eight points you can improve your listening skills in any situation:
- Find areas of interest
- Judge content, not delivery
- Hold your comments till the end
- Listen for ideas and themes
- Concentrate on listening
- Resist distractions
- Keep your mind open
- Check your understanding with the speaker
How do you learn listening skills at Toastmasters?
Table Topics – Listen, Think, Speak
- Listen to the topic
- Think of a response
- Deliver a short speech
As a Speaker – Think, Speak, Listen
- Think of a topic
- Deliver a speech
- Listen to evaluator’s comments
As an evaluator – Think, Listen, Speak
- Think about topic
- Listen to speaker
- Give feedback to speaker
Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”