10 Habits of Really Good Listeners

 Improve Communication Skills: 10 tips for effective listening

1. Listening means that you are doing your best to understand the point of view of the other person.  

How do you know that you understand the point of view of your partner?  Repeat back what you heard the other person saying, repeat it in your own words.  Check with your partner:  did you get it right?



2. The best response to a remark, especially if it is one that usually gets you upset, is “mmhmm” or “tell me more about that.”

3. If you don’t understand or you don’t agree with the other person you can say, “Tell me more about that” or “I don’t understand, what are your concerns?”

4. It is important that you take the other position seriously. Attend to what your partner is saying, eliminate distractions, give your partner the gift of your undivided attention during this time.

5. When it is your turn to explain your wants, needs and position, do so clearly, with specific examples, and as much as possible, give facts.

6. Facts include your feelings about the situation, but the feelings do not tell the whole story.

7. It is useful to reflect on the feelings that you are picking up from the expressions and the words of the other person. For example, “I am hearing that you feel frustrated by all of the work there is to do.  Is that right?”  Always check that your interpretation is close to the mark.  This has the advantage that if you are wrong, your partner will correct you, or will perhaps recognize emotions that he or she was unaware of before your pointed them out.

8. If the discussion is between the two of you make sure that both have an opportunity to speak and to be heard.

9. As much as possible, eliminate interruptions, except to ask for clarifications.

10. If the issue is a dispute, it may not be resolved in one session. That is OK, the discussion will be continued at another time.  It is a good idea to set an appointment to continue this discussion. Also if your partner is sharing an experience or a problem, encourage ongoing discussions of feelings and experiences.


Resources:  Steven Covey:  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In