Skip links

Essential Listening Tips

Develop​ ​the​ ​desire​ ​to​ ​listen​. Really listening to someone is a wonderful gift to give.

Let​ ​the​ ​other​ ​person​ ​do​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​talking.​ ​ Applying the 70/30 rule ensures this will happen. You listen 70% of the time and you talk 30%.

Avoid​ ​interrupting.​ There is always the temptation to interrupt so you can tell the other person something you think is vitally important. When you are about to speak, ask yourself, is it really necessary?

Learn​ ​active​ ​listening.​ It’s not enough that you’re listening to someone – you want to be sure that they know you are listening. Active listening is the art of communicating to the other person that you are hearing their every word.

Ask​ ​for​ ​clarification​ ​if​ ​needed.​ ​ ​This will clear up any misunderstanding you have.

Get​ ​used​ ​to​ ​“listening”​ ​for​ ​nonverbal​ ​messages​ ​–​ ​body​ ​language.​ The other person may be communicating with you via body language. You need to decode the message.

Ask​ ​a​ ​question—then​ ​be​ ​quiet.​ ​ This is a foolproof way to listen. Think of yourself as an interviewer.

Tips​ ​for​ ​asking​ ​Questions

Once you have learned how to keep yourself from speaking, the art of asking questions is the shortcut to effective listening. Here are some tips for asking questions:

Ask​ ​open-ended​ ​questions.​ ​ ​Questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. “”How can we do this?” “What do you think?” Your objective is to get them to talk as much as possible.

Don’t​ ​ask​ ​questions​ ​that​ ​put​ ​them​ ​on​ ​the​ ​defensive.​ For example, “why?” is intimidating. Don’t ask “why?” ask “how come?”

Ask​ ​“what​ ​if?”​ What if we did it this way?

Ask​ ​for​ ​their​ ​advice.​ “What would you suggest we do to resolve this?” Everyone loves to be asked for advice.

Offer​ ​alternatives.​ ​ ​“Which way would you prefer?” This demonstrates your respect for the other person.

Ask​ ​about​ ​their​ ​feelings.​ “How do you feel about this?” People love to have their feelings validated.

Repeat​ ​back​ ​what​ ​they​ ​said.​ “Let me be sure I understand what you are saying. You are saying that…?” This technique will prevent misunderstandings and convince them that you really are listening.

Return to top of page