6 Ways to Be a Better Listener

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

We all have ears, but are we using them correctly? In your role as a teacher, staff member, or volunteer, you are probably talking all day long: telling kids to slow down, solving problems in the office, or talking on the phone.

You’ve mastered the talking part, but are you listening? It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we stop talking and start listening.

Here are some tips to help you become a better listener:

  1. Look people in the eye. Don’t be distracted with things going on around the room. If you find this difficult, take the person to another room where you can focus. Show the person he or she is important and worth the effort by making eye contact.
  2. Nod your head. A head nod once in awhile during a conversation lets the person speaking know that you are listening. You may not agree with everything that is being said, but nodding your head shows that you are an active participant in the conversation.
  3. Put your phone away. It is rude to pull out your phone and start typing while someone is talking to you. Take dedicated time for real human interactions and get back on your phone later. Even if your phone is set to vibrate, you will be distracted instead of listening to the person.
  4. Don’t interrupt. If you are talking, you aren’t listening. Instead, you are thinking about what you are going to say. This means you are missing part of the conversation. Being silent while another is talking is respectful and necessary in productive interactions.
  5. Listen and repeat. When there is a break in the conversation, sometimes it’s helpful to repeat what was said to let the person know you were listening. After hearing your interpretation, this also gives the person an opportunity to clarify points he or she was making.
  6. Stay engaged. Some people are long-winded, and you may be too busy for a 30-minute discussion. You may need to steer the conversation to be able to end it, but stay engaged as long as you can so the person feels satisfied.