Simple Tips to Being a Good Listener

By Eryka T. Johnson

Do you struggle to listen when others speak? Yes, you are present but your mind drifts to something else and you simply forget everything said. You are not alone! Here are some simple tips to being a good listener that you can use in any situation.

A good listener first begins with the ability to PAY ATTENTION. In fact, this is the very definition of listening. The more focused you are the greater your ability to grasp concepts and remember the details of any discussion.

During a recent leadership assessment, my managers and peers provided feedback on my leadership capabilities. This assessment was a major eye opener to several strengths I was unaware of as they were second nature. One thing my peers mentioned was my ability to listen well and allow others to express themselves before I weighed into a conversation.

You know…I’ve never really seen this as a strength. But, it’s something I’ve done for years. As a kid growing up in the South, I was taught to “be seen and not heard.” In fact, I was not entitled to my own opinion about anything until I became an adult.

Because I was never allowed to express myself, all I could do was listen. And, it was expected of me. After my mom finished lecturing about the dishes, homework, money for extracurricular activities, etc., I had to be ready to answer her questions. In order for me to answer properly, I truly had to listen.

Today, I master this skill dramatically different from when I was a little girl!

Simple Tips For Good Listening

Here are a few simple tips that help me as a good listener that you can apply in any situation right NOW!

  • Give your full attention to the discussion. No texting on your cell phone, playing with your pad device, listening to music or doing anything that could distract from the discussion.
  • Save your conclusions for last. Try not to jump to an immediate conclusion. Erase any pre-conceived judgment out of your mind.  
  • Allow the other person to speak without any interruptions. This gives the person an opportunity to get all their thoughts on the table. And, it gives you time to fully process all this new data you’re receiving.
  • Take good notes. These notes can be either mental or written. If you don’t have a pen and paper nearby, remember the high points and write them down as soon as possible.
  • Ask questions for clarification. You want to ensure you are crystal clear about the discussion especially if you are expected to follow-up with some type of action.
  • Review your notes and figure out your next steps. When you get a moment alone to fully process the discussion, make sure you review your notes and take action. This keeps the information fresh and prevents it from hitting one ear and out the other.

Can you see yourself using these practical & simple tips to being a good listener? I would love to hear from you. Respond below.
Eryka T. Johnson