Listening Skills

“The people of the World are islands shouting at each other across a sea of misunderstandings.”

-George Eliot

Listening is an integral part of the communication process. A good communicator is also a good listener. Most of the class toppers claim that they could do academically well because they carefully listened to what their teacher said. In fact if you want to be successful, you essentially need to have excellent listening skills so that you can respond accordingly and communicate effectively. Listening is required in every aspect of life, be it personal or professional. For instance, A Judge listens carefully to all the witnesses and evidences before pronouncing the judgment, a clinical psychologist carefully listens to what his patient has to say to understand the crux of the mental ailment and then prescribe curative solutions accordingly, a parent has to patiently listen to the baby to understand what is going on in the child’s mind, a doctor listens closely to the patient to understand the symptoms and so on.


Listening is the ability to not only hear but also interpret, grasp, understand and internalize what you hear so as to make the communication process complete and effective. Listening is an art. The more you practice it, the better you become at it. The speaker has to not only listen to the verbal signals but also the non-verbal signals to make conversation successful. Active Listening is the core skill of Effective communication.

Difference between Hearing and Listening



•Is physical process

•Is mental process

•Is passive

•Is active

•Through ears

•Through mind and eyes

Casual process that Just happens,involuntary

•Conscious process,requires focus and effort

•Physiological process involving 1 sense organ

•Psychological process involving more than 1 sense organ


1.Listening actively and attentively is vital to conversation. Listening intently raises the level of communication.

2.Listening is an important skill for building interpersonal skills in both our personal as well as professional lives. Failure to listen sends a negative message of placing low value on other people.

3.Your success at the workplace greatly depends upon your listening skills. At the workplace, You must listen to perform to expectations, avoid conflicts and misunderstandings and to succeed in any assigned task.


1) Effective Listening can be learned -Some people are good listeners, others are not so good at it. Remember, good listeners are made, not born.

2) Effective Listening requires commitment- There has to be willingness to learn. It is a constant journey that requires time, patience , discipline and constant improvement.

3) Active Listening skills must be practiced- Practice will enable

effective listening to become your second nature. Repetition is

the key.

4) Time is an important tool-Find time and opportunity to develop the skills. Stay motivated an don’t give up easily, keep 5) How well you listen to others depends upon your internal communication-The internal dialogue that goes on within your mind has great influence upon how well you can absorb the message of others.

6) Some effective Listening techniques are more difficult to implement than others-Find out your listening weaknesses and work on them.

What leads to Poor Listening?

The following are the causes of poor listening.

1) Weak command over Language and vocabulary-If a listener has this constraint, he may not properly understand the message conveyed and thus it may result in poor listening.

2) Difficult physical conditions-a noisy atmosphere around the listener may distract him creating a barrier in listening.

3) Non-serious Listening-The temptation to combine listening with other activities especially over the phone often contribute to poor listening.

4) Dislike towards the speaker-This creates a psychological barrier and acts as an obstacle in effective listening.

5) Impatience-If the speaker is too slow, the listener is short of time or assumes he knows what is coming or when we want to show off our knowledge by speaking, it leads to poor listening.

6) Information overload-When an excessive amount of information leads to distraction and boredom, the listener misses out important information leading to poor listening.

Ineffective listening styles

​​•The Missing in action Listener

(physically present,mentally absent,blank look)

•The Distracted Listener

(doing 2 or more tasks at a time,no eye contact,constantly nods)

•The selective Listener

(hear what they want to hear,ignore what does not conforms their beliefs)

•The contentious Listener

(Listens only to reject,disagree)

Effective listening styles

•Content Listening

(Goal is to understand)

•Empathetic Listening

(Goal is to evaluate information)

•Active Listening

(Goal is to gain insight to solve a problem)

•Critical Listening

(Goal is to appreciate)

7 steps of being a good listener

STEP 1 : State your intention to listen

Clearly convey the msg to the speaker that you are interested in listening what he has to say by stating any relevant expressions”I am all ears.”, “Please say, I am listening to you”, “Go on, that sounds interesting”

STEP 2: Manage physical Environment

Cut down noise,distractions,children playing,songs/music playing,Tv volume,poor network, cooker whistles,grinder on , dogs barking etc, create a peaceful environment in order to focus.

STEP 3: Make internal commitment to listen

Mentally prepare yourself to listen carefully and note down points if need be, stop internal dialogues/parallel thinking/parallel singing etc.

STEP 4: Ask apt Questions

Ask open ended ,close ended relevant questions in order to gain better clarity and thereby signalling the speaker that you are keenly listening to him

STEP 5: Participate Actively

listen, nod , show interest,ask Qs,make notes if speaker allows

STEP 6 : Assume Listening Posture

make eye contact,nod where necessary, speak little where required, do not show boredom or impatience,don’t watch clock,give undivided attention,read non-verbal cues as well

STEP 7 : Avoid talking

Don’t speak/chip in between,let the speaker finish,ask him to continue/carry on,never interrupt unnecessarily, be natural and genuinely interested

Let’s Reflect

Q1.Can you share an experience when you felt bad because you were not adequately listened to by someone?

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Q2.Can you share an experience when you were satisfied that someone patiently listened to what you said?

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Q3. Now compare the above two instances and tell which experience made you happy and why?

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Q4. How much would you rate your self on a scale of 10 for listening

skills. Why?

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Q5. What would you start doing from now onwards to become a better listener?

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Q6.What will you stop doing from now onwards to become a better


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