Improve Your Listening Skills

EAP Navigator - August 2016

Successful communication is a two-way street. When someone speaks to you, you should listen and create a dialogue. As you listen and converse, your goal should be understanding, not winning or being right. Here are suggestions on how to improve your listening skills:

If you learn to use active listening skills to hear and comprehend the thoughts, feelings and concerns behind the words, you’ll make a speaker feel respected and also create an understanding that leads to progress and mutual benefit.

Steps to active listening

Stop whatever you’re doing and give your full attention to the speaker. To demonstrate your interest, lean forward, look directly at the other person, nod and make appropriate comments about what he or she says.

What to listen for:

• Words. What are the words alone trying to say?
• Tone of voice. Tone of voice. The tone of someone’s voice reflects the person’s emotional state.
• Pitch. A high-pitched voice indicates nervousness.
• Pace. People usually vary in the speed of their speech.

Body language to look for:

• Eyes. Good eye contact signifies honesty and confidence.
• Facial expression. A smile expresses friendship, relaxation. Frowning conveys disapproval or disbelief.
• Posture. Standing tall with arms relaxed at the side indicates confidence, while sloped shoulders suggest low self-esteem.

Rating your listening skills

To find out how well you listen, repeat what you think the other person said before you respond to it. If people correct you more than 20 percent of the time, you hear what you want to hear, not what’s said.

Listening actively pays off because mutual understanding in communication is essential for success, not only in your career, but also in your personal life.