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Become a Better Listener Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Become a Better Listener

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” - Ernest Hemingway

Keep in mind: Listening is win/win.

Many may not listen that well because they think they don’t get much out of it person­ally. But the better you listen, the better they will listen to you. And the better and deeper the relati­onship will be. If you focus on unders­tanding him or her and on giving value based on that then you’ll get the same thing back

2. Think you’ll will retell to someone else

One of the best ways to remember something better is to know that you are going to tell what you learned to someone else. Then you’ll be more alert, naturally start asking more questions to understand and what is said – in my experience – simply seems to stick better.

3. Keep the eye-co­ntact.

Looking everywhere except at the person talking can make it seem like you are not listening. And then the conver­sation suffers. So keep the eye-co­ntact. I found it easier to start doing this more often when I:
Took it step-b­y-s­mal­l-step and improved my eye-co­ntact time in conver­sations over the span of a few months.
Focused my gaze at just one of the other person’s eyes at time.

4. Keep that smart phone away.

Browsing the internet on your phone or your computer while trying to listen usually leads missing some part of the conver­sation and to the person talking feeling like he or she is not listened to. So put that phone down while listening if you don’t need it to check something or write something down as a part of the conver­sation.

5. Summarize what was said.

Taking a few seconds to summarize what someone just said – like a longer segment about what happened at work or in a relati­onship – makes it a lot easier to make sure I’ve understood what happened.

As I say that summary out loud the other person can adjust or correct my unders­tanding and so I can add my perspe­ctive, thoughts or questions in a better way based on that rather than my assump­tions about what happened and of how the other person’s experi­enced this situation.

6. Ask instead of trying to mind-read.

Reading someone’s mind is quite difficult. Most of the time imposs­ible. Still, so many of us have tried to do it and started conver­sations based on that too many times.

So when you feel an impulse to assume and mind-read stop that and start being curious and ask open-ended questions. Going for this kind of question instead of the ones where the other person can just answer a yes or a no will help him/her to open up and to start explaining and sharing what is going on.

7. Get some fresh air and/or exercise.

Few things make it so hard to follow along in a conver­sation as a tired and foggy head. Two things that can keep that energy and mental clarity up are to open a window or to take a walk outside to get both some exercise and some fresh air.

8. When you listen, just listen.

Don’t interrupt. Don’t jump in with solutions (this one can be a hard one in my experi­ence). Just be present in the moment and listen fully to what the other person has to say and let him or her speak until the entire message is said.

9. Be honest about your current limita­tions.

If you’re in a rush or feel very tired or stressed out let the other person know. If you have listened for long while and your mind has hit its limit and starts to wander and you need a break and maybe something to eat say that too.

It is better for the both of you to be honest and to continue the conver­sation later on rather than trying to fake undivided attention or to try to keep the listening up when you honestly just can’t.

10. Share what you did in a similar situation.

When asked for advice while listening or when it seems approp­riate – not when the other person just needs to vent and get things out – share what you have done in the same situation or a similar one and what worked well for you. That gives a lot more weight to your input than just random advice or opinions about what you think could work.