Listening Skills

Having Listening skills is the most profound way you can show respect for others.

“God gave man two ears but only one mouth that he might hear twice as much as he speaks.” Epictetus

It might seem strange, but you can increase your self esteem by practicing good listening. Of the four communication skills -- reading, writing, speaking and listening, listening is the most important.

But for some reason no one teaches us how to listen. When you give someone your undivided attention, you show respect for that person. In turn the person speaking respects you because you listened and gave her a voice.

People who have high self esteem are better listeners than those who don’t. Why? Because during a conversation, people with low self esteem are often thinking of their appearance or what they can say to impress the other person.

Have a look at these sites for more support with building self esteem —

Learn More about yourself with a vision board.
Use a journal to record your listening in communication progress.
For help with journal topics go to writing prompts.
To boost your emotional intelligence, check out Emotional Intelligence.
One of the best ways to improve listening in communication is to join Toastmasters and take up public speaking. This is because you'll listen and evaluate others' speeches.
For more help with building self esteem have a look at —

Self Esteem Activities and Self Esteem Exercises

Ten Tips for Building Listening Skills

1. Be physically relaxed when in a conversation. Try not to cross your arms. Be open.

2. Listen with an open mind and an open heart. Be free of preconceptions and prejudices.

3. Concentrate totally on the speaker and what is being said. Avoid the temptation to prepare an immediate reply while the person is speaking.

4. Give visual encouragement to the speaker by facing him or her, having good eye contact, and showing this by nodding your head in acceptance.

5. Give oral encouragement to the speaker. You could use, for example words like "yes", "I see", "I understand" or even just sounds like "mmm" or "ah".

6. Avoid interrupting. Let the speaker tell the story in his/her own words and at his/her own pace.

7. Avoid rushing in to fill a silence. Give the person time to think and reflect.

8. Most of all, avoid making judgments. Instead ask open questions. For example, say, "How did you feel about that?" instead of, "You must have hated that."

9. If you want to be sure that you've understood a particular point, check back that this really is what he/she really meant.

10. Finally, and this might seem odd, know when to stop listening. There are times when it’s best to diplomatically end a conversation.

If a friend or colleague is taking more time than you are comfortable with, simply say so. Be polite but firm. If a someone is simply using you to pass on negative gossip, tell the person you want to focus on positive things.

Perspectives on Listening Skills

1. Understand that listening has to be learned just like the other three communication skills. We teach children to speak and adults to speak in public. Because we don't teach listening, it’s no wonder then that many of us are not very good listeners.

2. Be patient with yourself. Learning to listen takes time, just like learning to read. Also, the act of listening takes time, especially if we aren’t used to it.

How Listening Skills Will Build Higher Self Esteem

1. When you give the speaker your undivided attention and are interested in her message, he/she will appreciate your consideration. Everyone likes to be listened to, to feel valued. So, because you have made the person feel important, she will respect and value you and if you have lack of self esteem, your feelings of self worth will increase.

2. Listening fully to what someone is saying means that you are not thinking about yourself. The less you think about yourself in conversations, the less you will be “me focused.”

3. The more you concentrate on what the speaker is saying, the more you learn about people and life and the more interesting you will be to be with. Because people will want to be with you, your self esteem gets a boost.

How to Use these Listening Skills

1. Focus on just one or two skills at a time. Work at skill development in stages. When you have a sense that you are getting better at one listening in communication skill, try another.

2. Keep building your skills this way. Soon you'll start to notice that listening is easier. Over time, you'll attract more people to you and your self esteem and self respect will grow.

What to Avoid When Building Listening Skills

1. Looking at your watch or at other people or activities around the room. Don't look around the person to see what is happening.

2. Appearing impatient or anxious to leave. If you have an appointment, simply be upfront and say so.

3. Being preoccupied and not listening.

4. Being so interested in what you want to say that you focus on when you can jump in to speak.

5. Thinking about an argument as to why the speaker is wrong.

6. Listening to your own personal beliefs about what is being said.

7. Evaluating and making judgments about the speaker or the message.

8. Not asking for clarification when you know that you don’t.

Practice these listening skills. Don't allow yourself to get discouraged. Keep at it and you will be successful.

Go from Listening Skills to Self Esteem Exercises
Go to Self Esteem Home Page

This material is for your personal use only.
Illegal internet copies will be detected by Copyscape.

Copyscape graphic