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Learning how to be a good listener

Effective communication is essential in the workplace, and it involves listening as well as speaking. Since a lot of communication occurs virtually, without the benefit of seeing someone in person, listening is more important than ever. Here's some more information about why being a good listener is important, how to be a good listener, and ways to showcase your listening skills.

Why being a good listener is important

In many positions, being a good listener is important. Whether someone is working as an accountant, a doctor, or a cook, they need to listen to co-workers and customers. Here are some of the benefits of being a good listener.

Good listening skills make you a faster learner

Being a good listener is a very important part of being a fast learner. People who pay attention during training can learn faster and get better scores on skill assessments or tests. They're less likely to make mistakes or need a second or third explanation to learn the correct procedure for a task.

Fast learners can pick up skills quickly, and they're more likely to get new responsibilities or promotions as they gain experience. They're also more adaptable when company procedures or technologies change. During training sessions, you can take notes and write down subjects you want to study to help you listen and learn faster.

Good listeners stand out at work

Good listeners and fast learners often excel at work. They can follow instructions accurately, and they don't need to ask for clarification as often as many other employees. The ability to learn quickly helps ensure that you can keep up with the demands of a new team. Listening with a keen and thoughtful ear can help prevent you from mixing up orders and instructions, saving your employer valuable time and money. Good listeners get promoted more often, and they can get along better with bosses, co-workers, and customers.

Being a good listener helps you form relationships

Being a good listener and remembering what people discuss with you can help you form strong, long-lasting relationships with them. For example, telling a co-worker to have fun at the beach instead of just wishing them a nice vacation shows them that you remembered when they talked about their vacation plans. Remembering customers' names or their most common requests encourages them to keep returning to a business.

How to be a good listener

If you're not a very good listener, you can improve your listening skills by following these tips.

Face the speaker and make eye contact

Eye contact is a vital part of effective communication. Facing the speaker and making eye contact shows them that you're listening. Make sure that you and the speaker are at about the same height. If they're sitting, sit with them, and if they stand, stand too. Put away books, smartphones, computers, and other potential distractions to demonstrate your undivided attention.

Relax while you listen

While it's a good idea to maintain eye contact, you should also avoid staring at a speaker. Look away once in a while, and avoid appearing tense, bored, or unsatisfied.

Pay attention to body language and other nonverbal cues

Nonverbal communication includes body movements, eye contact, posture, facial expressions, and more. Paying attention to nonverbal cues can improve your ability to engage and interact with people. It also lets you interpret the true meaning of their words more accurately.

Let speakers finish without interruptions

Interruptions can disrupt a person's train of thought and take a conversation off-topic. Some people may also consider interrupting rude. Before you respond or ask questions, wait until a speaker finishes their thought and pauses. If you do end up talking about subjects that aren't related to the original conversation topic, let the person you're speaking with know that you want to pick up where you left off. This shows that you're interested in the original subject and you value what the speaker says.

Ways to showcase your listening skills

Here are some ways you can showcase your listening skills.

Paraphrase a speaker's words

During in-person or phone interviews or while speaking to customers or supervisors, you can show them that you're listening by paraphrasing their words occasionally. For example, waiters and waitresses often show diners that they can remember orders by repeating them. Paraphrasing also helps you prevent errors and follow instructions correctly the first time.

Ask questions

Asking intelligent questions can show people that you're listening and you want to learn more. It also lets you find out about related facts that the speaker may have missed. For example, asking what you should bring to a company retreat can give you and your co-workers some essential information.

Mention soft skills on your resume, including listening

Soft skills like listening are as important or more important than technical or hard skills for many positions. Talk about your skills, such as listening, communication, and the ability to work as a team member. If possible, talk about a time when your listening skills benefited an employer. For example, you could mention that you formed close relationships with customers or that you learned a new skill quickly. After you finish writing it, you can upload your resume to reach more employers.

Good listeners and quick learners are often management material. They can handle complex tasks and adapt to changes quickly. Learning how to be a better listener can help you become more successful.

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