In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, communication is more important then ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another. Genuine listening has become a rare gift—the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time. At home, it helps develop resourceful, self-reliant kids who can solve their own problems. Listening builds friendships and careers. It saves money and marriages.

Here are 4 tips to help you develop effective listening skills.

Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.

Talking to someone while they scan the room, study a computer screen, or gaze out the window is like trying to hit a moving target. How much of the person’s divided attention you are actually getting? Fifty percent?Five percent? If the person were your child you might demand, “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” but that’s not the sort of thing we say to a lover, friend or colleague.

In most Western cultures, eye contact is considered a basic ingredient of effective communication. When we talk, we look each other in the eye. That doesn’t mean that you can’t carry on a conversation from across the room, or from another room, but if the conversation continues for any length of time, you (or the other person) will get up and move. The desire for better communication pulls you

Listen to the Audio – No Reading!

The first step in this method is to simply listen to the audio alone. Don’t read the text in advance and don’t follow along with it as you listen. The point here is to focus solely on your aural skills and see how much you can understand without any visual aid.

Of course, unless you’re already at a very high level, this can be very difficult. Rather than trying to understand every single word, it’s better to focus on trying to understand the ‘gist’ of what’s being said.

See if you can pick out some key words or phrases that might give you an idea of what’s being said and note them down. Find anything at all that you can cling on to and you’ll be able to use this as starting point to learn more from the context.


It’s not time to look at the text just yet. Many learners make the mistake of turning to the text too quickly. However, the point here is to practice your listening skills so just stay focused on listening for the time being.

On the first listen, you’ll probably have identified one or two key words or ideas. As you repeat the audio, listen carefully and see if you can pick out and words or phrases you may have missed the first time. By now you may already have some idea what this piece of audio is about, so use the context to your advantage. If you can’t figure out exactly what’s going on, don’t worry. Just note down any keywords you do understand or words that seem important.

Be attentive, but relaxed.

Now that you’ve made eye contact, relax. You don’t have to stare fixedly at the other person. You can look away now and then and carry on like a normal person. The important thing is to be attentive. The dictionary says that to “attend” another person means to:

  • be present
  • give attention
  • apply or direct yourself
  • pay attention
  • remain ready to serve

Mentally screen out distractions, like background activity and noise. In addition, try not to focus on the speaker’s accent or speech mannerisms to the point where they become distractions. Finally, don’t be distracted by your own thoughts, feelings, or

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