how to become a better listener

Exploring the Art of Listening: Strategies to Enhance Your Listening Skills

March 18, 2024
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Listening is a bit of a lost art. But it’s a skill that can help you in every aspect of life.

Increased productivity, more genuine connections, and career growth are just a few of the research-backed reasons why listening is a skill worth sharpening.

So keep reading to learn a few tips to help you up your listening game—and why you should.

The Power of Listening

Many confuse hearing with listening, but they're actually quite different.

Hearing is passive, as it’s the mere perception of sounds. Listening, on the other hand, is an active process. And active listening involves cognitive skills that require you to pay attention, understand, and interpret what you hear. 

When you practice active listening, you can achieve the following:

  • You can form stronger relationships, as you're communicating that the person talking is valued and worth your time.
  • You can improve the quality of information you receive, leading to more informed decisions.
  • You can foster better teamwork and leadership by paying attention to the needs, ideas, and nonverbal cues of those around you.

Common Barriers to Effective Listening

Life is full of distractions, both external and internal, that can sabotage our best efforts to actively listen. Recognizing these barriers—whether it’s a notification on your phone, your mind racing, or something in between—is the first step toward overcoming them.

What’s more, your pre-existing perceptions about the speaker or the topic at hand can skew your understanding or prevent you from fully absorbing the message. And when emotions like defensiveness or frustration come into play, it becomes even more challenging to listen with intent.

So, what steps can you take to become a good listener? 

Begin by pinpointing the distractions that affect you the most and commit to actively addressing them. This could involve seeking out a calmer environment for listening or striving to approach conversations with an open and unbiased mindset. Additionally, mastering the art of staying present can significantly boost your ability to comprehend and connect deeply with others. 

We have a few more actionable suggestions to help you improve your listening skills—keep reading to learn them.

3 Active Listening Techniques For Your Daily Life

Every interaction, be it mundane or monumental, offers an opportunity to practice and hone your active listening skills. 

But active listening involves more than just silence. Techniques such as mirroring, paraphrasing, and asking open-ended questions not only demonstrate your engagement but also encourage deeper dialogue. These practices help make the speaker feel heard and appreciated, fostering a deeper connection and understanding.

Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these techniques.

1. The Mirroring Technique

Reflecting your understanding of the speaker's message by subtly mimicking the speaker’s nonverbal cues, like their facial expressions and posture, can reassure them that they are being heard. This isn't just about copying them—it's a way of showing empathy and letting them know you really get what they're saying.

2. Paraphrasing for Precision

Rephrasing the speaker's message in your own words serves two important functions: It confirms your comprehension of the message and provides the speaker insight into how their message is being perceived.

3. Questions as the Key to Understanding

Open-ended questions invite the speaker to elaborate and can provide further context. They demonstrate a genuine interest in the speaker's message and promote a more in-depth conversation.

Cognitive Brain Training for Better Listening

Just as you exercise your body to build physical strength, you can also exercise your brain to enhance your listening capabilities. 

That brings us to our final strategy to help you improve your listening skills: Downloading the Elevate brain training app. Elevate is a brain training app that offers a daily crossword puzzle and 40+ award-winning brain games—including some that are audio-based— which can boost your auditory processing speed and attention span.

Elevate can also be useful in strengthening your working memory. For example, in the Focus game, you're tasked with listening to an audio track and match facts with their correct subjects. And over time, this game can improve your ability to concentrate while listening as well as strengthen your short-term memory.

Receiving Feedback on Your Listening

Growth in any skill involves not just practice but also—you guessed it—feedback

Feedback is an invaluable asset on your quest to become a better listener. It offers an outsider's perspective on what you might miss and what you could improve. And by being open to such feedback, you can take tangible steps toward taking your listening skills from good to great.

Start Elevating Your Listening Today

Listening is more than a skill—it opens doors to deeper understanding, stronger connections, and richer experiences. 

And you can improve your listening with active techniques or by playing brain training games on Elevate, an award-winning app available on iOS and Android

So if you’re looking to boost your listening abilities, trying out Elevate could be a great starting point. So, if you haven't checked it out yet, now's the time to dive into a free trial and see how it can help you listen better!

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