Traits of a Good Listener

Whether you’re in a meeting with your boss, sitting in a lecture or trying to ace a job interview, what you hear is almost as important as what you say. How you hear is even more important.

1. Being Non-evaluative

The verbal and non-verbal behaviour of an active listener will suggest to the speaker that he/she is being properly heard and understood. The purpose is to communicate, overlooking the qualities of ideas, attitudes and values of the speaker.

Your behaviour conveys the impression that you accept the person without making any judgement of the right, wrong or bad suitable or unsuitable.

2. Paraphrasing

If one wish to clarify, you can simply paraphrase what the speaker has said and enquire from the speaker whether you have heard it accurately. Use phrase like following ones to ensure that you have correctly paraphrased the information correctly:

  • As I gather, you want to tell…
  • So you mean to say that…
  • Oh! Your feeling towards…
  • Do you mean that…

3. Reflecting implications

To reflect this you have to go a bit beyond the content of the speaker indicating him your appreciation for the ideas and where they are leading. It may take the speaker to further extension of ideas.

The listeners aim here is to reflect eagerness and zest by nodding or through verbal means thereby giving positive feedback. If you use the technique with the genuine intention of understanding more, you can certainly help the speaker by boosting the confidence making him believe that the listener has his content well

4. Reflecting hidden feelings

Sometimes, one has to go beyond the explicit feelings and contents of what is being said to unravel the underlying feelings, intensions, beliefs, or values that may be influencing the speaker’s words.

You have to try to empathize or identify yourself with the speaker, to experience what he/she feels. Also, avoid suggesting to the speaker that the feelings you reflect are what ought to be felt by him in such a situation. This would make the speaker feel evaluated.

5. Inviting further contributions

In a situation where you haven’t heard or understood enough yet to respond with empathy and understanding, prompt the speaker to give you more information. While it is useful to ask questions, be cautious about asking too many. Open minded questions create a more supportive, trusting, climate that will help the communications to move smoothly.

6. Responding non-verbally

You can show that you are an active listener by adopting certain postures and sending non-verbal signals which communicate your interest in what the speaker is saying. These include regular eye contact (without staring), body leaning slightly towards the speaker, head nods and a slightly tilted head. By giving these signals you will make the speaker feel more confident and will by reflecting interest and understanding. You will also be able to generate more trust between yourself and speaker.


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