How to improve your listening: my top 10 success tips

by Betty Lochner on March 14, 2011

It takes two to speak the truth — one to speak and another to hear. ~ Thoreau

Ever feel like you could use a list of best practices for listening?  Well, here you go. The following are my top 10 success tips for improving your listening skills.

Now, here’s a 2-step process for how to make the most of this list:

1) Read it over and note which areas you already do well in and then circle the ones that you could improve on.

2) Take one that you have circled and make a plan to on it this week.  Just focus on that one tip and practice it until it starts to become comfortable for you.

Top 10 Listening Tips

  1. Keep an open mind.  Don’t judge by appearance or style.
  2. Stay on topic. Don’t change the subject.
  3. Focus on what is being said. Don’t rehearse your response.
  4. When you feel yourself interrupting, swallow.
  5. Pay attention to your body language.
  6. Stay calm. Control your emotions.
  7. Use questions to clarify your understanding.
  8. To dig deeper: “What I hear you saying is…” or “tell me more.”
  9. To paraphrase for understanding, say: “It sounds like…”
  10. Be positive. Nod and smile!

Which tip challenges you the most? Please share by leaving a comment!


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

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