6 Ways to Being a Better Listener

Being a #girlboss can sometimes be exhausting. The constant grind, working to get it done, and staring at a computer screens can really drain your energy. When we finally have human interaction, it can sometimes be hard to pay attention and listen to the other person.

Do you ever zone out while talking to someone and allow you mind to drift off to a project that’s due in three days, or a meeting you have to be to in an hour, or maybe a tropical island with a delicious drink in your hand? (Okay, the latter of the three might come to mind more often than not…) Of course you do! We all have been there. It’s hard talking to people and listening to what they have to say. It’s one thing to talk to someone and respond to them, but it’s another to really absorb what they’re saying and relate to it.


Here are 6 tips to help you in future conversations so that you can really allow yourself to listen.


Tip one: listen to learn, not to be polite. Sometimes we allow ourselves to become wrapped up in a conversation out of generosity, not curiosity. Instead of feeling like we are gifting someone with our presence and conversation, we should instead engage in conversation in order to truly listen to what the person has to say. We should be learning something about the person. Each day we should ask ourselves: what we are curious about and what we are wrong about. Editor Steward Brand says that this allows our ears to be opened and it gives us a beginner’s mind-set when walking into a conversation.


Tip two: try to quiet your agenda. Instead of thinking about the meeting you have in an hour and the project due in a few days, you should try to quiet your mind while in a conversation (meditate that mind). Keeping your mind clear helps to allow new information to flow. Instead of blocking out the conversation, you are allowing it to take hold in your mind.


Tip three: more questions! As my former high school literature teacher frequently said “the more questions you ask, the more you learn.” This couldn’t be more true. When someone asks questions of another it builds trust, allows one to be open and honest with you, and it shows people that you care about what they have to say (and who doesn’t love that).  Not only does it show you care about what they have to say, but you allow yourself and others to become more open.


Tip 4: Pay Attention! Always remember the 2:1 listening to talking ratio when in a conversation. As much as we want to share things about ourselves and dominate the conversation, we should allow others to talk more and we should try and engage on the subjects they bring to the conversation.


Tip 5: Repeat back what you hear. I am currently having flashbacks to zoning out and having an undergraduate professor call on me, “Can you explain to the class what this passage we just read means to you?”… Well, no I cannot; I am exhausted and was dreaming about chocolate fondue. (Sorry.) Unfortunately, in the business world, you can’t afford to zone out in a conversation. The response “I’m sorry what page are we on?” does not work. Be alert and attentive when listening to others and be able to repeat what was just heard.

Tip 6: Let the other person finish talking! As much as we want to input our thoughts into a conversation, we have to remember that the other person wants to do the same. We must remember that one important thing about listening is patience. As difficult as it may seem to find the perfect moment to formulate a response to what someone has said, it can be done.