What it Means to Be a Good Listener
The ability to listen and tune into another person’s problems or emotions is what makes us human.
Okay, so if this behavioral trait is at the very core of our being, does it mean that all of us are inherently good listeners?
Maybe, maybe not?
The obvious next question to yourself is, “Am I a good listener?”
Did you nod your head yes or shake your head no? Maybe you’re unsure. It can be hard to gauge how good of a listener you are.
Sometimes it can be hard to gauge how others are receiving our behavior or listening ability. If you want to provide better emotional support and become a great listener, look no further. You’ve stopped at the right spot.
Today we’re talking about what it takes to be a good listener. Scroll down to learn more.
5 Must-Have Qualities to Be a Good Listener
1. Be Fully Present
Undivided attention for the person you are providing emotional support to is the foundation of making you a good listener.
Did you know you can use body language and non-verbal cues to show that you are fully present?
Subtle cues of being in a relaxed open state of mind will be picked up by the person you are comforting, leading them to open up further to you.
Not-so-subtle cues are also important. Turn your body towards the person, try not to fidget during your conversation, and make eye contact.
2. Focus On the Person, Not the Problem
Have you ever caught yourself speaking too much because you were too enthusiastic or too caught up in the excitement of a conversation? Maybe you thought about it later and regretted your behavior.
For many of us, the immediate urge during certain conversations can be to step into problem-solving mode. We have an inherent need as humans to be of service to another. In a nutshell, we need to be needed by others, which generates positive vibes within us. This is exactly what volunteering, donating to charity, or other humanitarian acts we perform are all about.
That said, it’s essential to emphasize the person, not the problem. This allows you to be truly tuned in to another’s emotional state. Who doesn’t like empathy, right?
To learn more about empathy, try reading: Why is Empathy So Important?
3. Ask Questions
Asking questions allows you to understand the perspective of the person you are listening to. Using your intuition and/or emotional intelligence during a conversation with a person seeking your support is of utmost importance.
Probing and intrusive questions can have the opposite effect and can make people uncomfortable. Eventually, they might shut down and refuse to open up to you at all. Instead, try having a cooperative conversation, one that flows with natural feedback.
We’d like for you to note that to be a good listener, you don’t necessarily have to stay silent the whole time. It all really comes down to knowing when to speak and what to say.
4. Hold Space
When simplified, holding space is all about making it about someone else without any self-serving agenda. Even in the face of differing opinions and reality different from ours, the ability to hold space and listen is an immensely altruistic quality to own and hone.
Holding space also refers to being free of the urge to judge another. In the long run, holding space is what builds trust and true connection. It promotes vulnerability and deepens relationships.
5. Have an Open Mind
Someone seeking your support might be experiencing a physical, mental, or emotional issue. Perhaps you might not have full comprehension of their condition. Or maybe you aren’t updated about the latest research on their condition. Having an open mind in such circumstances helps take a perspective that might otherwise be foreign to you.
A good listener should be able to bend their mind like a pretzel.
Things to Avoid When Trying to Become a Good Listener
How many of these dos did you check? Pat yourself on the back if you checked all five. Clearly, you are a great listener. Maybe you can even help others become one.
Now that we’ve discussed the dos, how can we stay away from the don’ts?
Let’s look at what could be considered poor listening skills. Here are five things you should avoid when trying to be a good listener
- Don’t give unsolicited advice. Unless someone asks directly for your advice, best to avoid giving it.
- Don’t jump to conclusions.
- Don’t interrupt the flow of the conversation.
- Don’t judge. You never know someone’s full story.
- Don’t relate someone else’s experience to your own life.
Being A Good Listener Starts With Yourself
No matter where you stand with your ability to provide emotional comfort, you can always self-introspect and start taking steps towards being a good listener. We hope this article will serve as a guide along your self-introspection journey.
Related article: How to Respond Instead of React in Communication