More and more, listening to someone else express their thoughts or opinions seems to be turning into a chore. And it’s becoming less and less an opportunity to exchange ideas, increase understanding or even amuse ourselves.

Look at social media. Many of us post and move on, not really concerned about how our comments are received. “I spoke my mind. Who cares what other people have to say!” Well, we do care if they disagree and challenge us, right?

In the workplace a “talk-and-walk” approach to communication can lead to misunderstandings, pent-up frustration and even animosity.

Are You Aiming to Win or Become a Better Listener?

become a better listener

Honing your listening skills is essential to your professional image. Having to ask the boss for directions a second or third time because you tuned out is embarrassing, and can also bring your competence into question.

Ask yourself: Are your entering a conversation to fix it or win it?

[bctt tweet=”Honing your #ListeningSkills is essential to your #Professionalimage. Having to ask the boss for directions a second or third time because you tuned out is embarrassing, and can also bring your competence into question. ” username=”rosalindatweets”]

While personality, cultural background and lack of workplace experience can affect how you understand and maneuver through a conversation, other considerations come into play. Before you start talking, ask yourself:

  • Do I dislike this person?
  • Do I think this person dislikes me?
  • Do I already know how the conversation is going to go down?
  • Am I dreading the talk?
  • Am I indifferent to the matter at hand?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, hold off talking and figure out a way to change your outlook.

11 Ways to Become a More Receptive and Responsive Listener

become a better listenerBefore you start, determine upfront that you’ll do more listening than talking in your conversation. Also, it’s a good idea to:

  1. Shake Off Any Assumptions You May Have: If you come to the conversation armed with expectations, you are doomed to fail.
  2. Allow Enough Time for the Conversation: Cutting off the other person to run to your lunch date is rude. Consider establishing a timeframe in advance that suits both your schedules.
  3. Choose a Mutually Convenient Time: Pick a slot where neither of you has a deadline, is hosting a meeting, or has a two-page to-do list waiting.
  4. Take Care of Business in Advance: Listening is even more challenging when you’re hungry or have a full bladder.
  5. Put Your Phone Away to Avoid Temptation: If you tend to get nervous or uncomfortable, you will no doubt seek out your phone to soothe yourself during your encounter. Don’t. Keep it stowed away and perhaps consider turning off notifications or the phone itself.
  6. Find a Quiet Location: For an undistracted conversation you need a place where interruptions are unlikely, and distractions are kept to a minimum. Consider, for example, going for a walk, reserving the conference room or meeting in a neutral space.
  7. Maintain Eye Contact: This not only shows respect for the other person, but it also demonstrates to them that you are completely tuned in. Besides, looking at a person closely can provide you with valuable visual cues as to their meaning and attitude.
  8. Be Aware of Your Facial Expressions: Sometimes when we hold our tongue, other parts our body, especially the face, express our thoughts for us. The eye-rolling, shaking of the head or crossing our arms are all actions that can speak louder than words.
  9. Don’t Take Things Personally: Focus on the topic at-hand. That’s it. Try to disassociate your personal feelings.
  10. Take Notes: This is especially helpful if you are easily distracted, get emotional or are forgetful. It also might stop you from interrupting every 30 seconds.
  11. Allow Yourself to Interrupt . . . Sometimes: It’s OK, at times, to intervene when the other person is talking, if you need clarification or would like them to go into more detail.

Listening can be challenging, especially when we think we are right, know how to do things better, or have actual proof that the other person doesn’t know what they are talking about.

Listening then can sound like blah, blah, blah! If becoming a better listener is difficult for you and all of the above suggestions fail, try this: Conduct yourself as if you are being videotaped.


Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Workplace Civility, Soft Skills, Business Etiquette Expert, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

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