Soft Skills Blog: Listening

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Do you find yourself sitting in class during a lecture only to realize you don’t know what the professor is talking about? This often happens when you are a poor listener. Listening may be one of the most important skills you can learn, because improving it will fundamentally change the way you interact with people.

What Is Listening?

The biggest misconception with listening is that it is the same as hearing. These two words do often go together, but are not synonyms. Listening requires hearing, but hearing does not require listening. Listening requires you to not only hear but to be active and empathetic. Bad listeners either do not have any empathy towards the speaker, hold strong biases when listening, or are not active listeners. Think of the most understanding people in your life. They are probably excellent listeners, but you might not have noticed until now.

Why Should I Care?

Listening is an important skill because every interaction with another person requires it. When you are a poor listener, you may often misunderstand what the speaker is saying. Mastering the skill of listening, however, will help you advance in any field. In school, you will be able to grasp material faster because you will fully understand what you need to learn.

In the workplace, listening will help you be a better employee by understanding what your boss and co-workers need. In your personal life, listening will help you communicate your feelings to friends, family, and significant others. You will be able to better understand how the other person feels which means there will be less miscommunication. When you finally learn to listen, communicating with others will have never felt so easy.

Learning to Listen

Listening is a difficult skill to learn because it requires constant attention and effort. These are a few things you can do to strengthen your listening skills

  1. Be attentive to the speaker and make a conscious effort to avoid any bias.
  2. Reflect your feelings to the speaker. Acknowledgement shows the speaker that you care.
  3. Practice self-observation during conversations to make sure you are listening actively and empathetically.

In Case You Weren’t Listening

Listening is a learned skill that requires constant effort and self-evaluation. Learning how to listen actively and empathetically will make a big difference in your life. This skill will help personal relationships as well as business relationships. Learning to listen will be a great asset in your professional and personal life.