How can I Improve my Listening Skills?

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  • Written By: Cathy Rogers
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2018
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Listening is an important skill that involves a lot more than the actual physical process of hearing. Good listening skills can be critical to success in a career, in relationships, and life itself. You can improve these skills with practice: be present in the conversation, show respect to the speaker, focus on what he or she is saying, and ask questions to show that you are paying attention.

Remember that listening is an active, rather than passive, process. You must not only hear what a speaker says, but you must understand it and then judge whether the information make sense. To improve your listening skills, try these techniques:


  • Listen with respect. Use your tone of voice and choice of words to communicate that you are genuinely trying to understand what the person is saying.

  • Provide your full attention on the person speaking; do not be distracted by other sights or sounds. Use eye contact to remain focused. Try to tune out any mannerisms of the speaker that may divert your attention from the content.

  • Focus your mind on what is being said. Try adjusting your body position if you find yourself losing concentration. Take notes to keep your mind focused.

  • Stay open-minded and try not to predict what will be said.

  • Don’t interrupt and don’t plan what your response will be while the speaker is still talking.

  • When working on your listening skills, try to determine the main idea, or most important point, of what the speaker is saying.

  • Ask questions. If you are not sure you heard something correctly or you didn’t understand, ask for clarification. Some situations don't always allow you to ask questions as the speaker talks, so keep your questions in your mind or write them down so that you can follow up later.

  • Provide feedback, either with verbal responses such as "I understand" or "I hear you saying..." or with non-verbal responses such as a nod, frown or smile.

These tips can help you improve your listening skills, which can improve other areas of your life, as well.


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Discuss this Article

Post 7

@feruze-- Absolutely! There are also centers that provide listening skills training if you're interested.

I think the most important two points when it comes to successful communication is waiting until the person stops speaking to respond and giving feedback.

Many people don't realize the importance of feedback. Feedback doesn't always have to be positive. You don't have to agree with everything that people say. But saying something like "I agree..." or "I don't feel that way..." shows that person that you listened to them and that you value their opinion.

If people feel that you value what they have to say, they will also feel that you value them as a person. This is the basis of all good relationships. These skills are necessary for good family, work and romantic relations.

Post 6

@donasmrs-- She's probably not even aware of it. I also have poor communication skills. I didn't know what I was doing that until my daughter pointed it out to me.

I want to change, but I end up doing the same thing. Do you think there is hope for me?

Post 5

I feel like some people don't listen at all. I have a coworker who constantly cuts me off when I'm speaking and says something completely unrelated.

It's annoying and frustrating but I also feel disrespected. She makes me feel as though what I have to say is of no importance at all.

I try to avoid her as much as possible for this reason. I don't know how her family and close friends tolerate her. I hope someone eventually tells her about her poor listening skills.

Post 4

I often wonder how the internet can change your life but since trying out these tips I have got higher marks in all of my subjects!

Post 3

Thank you author and posters. This is very helpful for everyone. Especially helpful for those like me who have ADD and have serious trouble achieving good listening skills.

Post 2

Oasis11- I agree with you. I just want to add that active listening skills will take a mediocre salesperson and turn them into a superstar.

People in sales really need to listen to customers because that is the only way they can pick up cues that either the customer is interested or the customer may be objecting to some aspect of the product or service.

The active listening skills are always used in sales training seminars because the more you listen to the customer the better you can service his or her needs.

People respond very positively to someone that actively listens to them. That is why great sales people have this skill down.

Post 1

I just want to say that improving your listening skills involves self-restraint.

Many times we just want to blurt out something and this interruption shows the person that we are speaking to that what we have to say is a little more important than the person speaking. This often makes the other person feel slightly offended.

But instead if we maintained eye contact and made positive gestures to demonstrate that we were paying attention and listening than the result would have better.

For example, nodding the head in agreement demonstrate that you are actively listening to what is being told to you. Asking questions during a brief pause also demonstrate active listening.

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