7 Tips to Becoming a Better Listener

Recently, one of my daughters received an award that caused me to pause. Among the awards she received was the best listener award at her Dance Team banquet. Instead of the certificate below, I thought she should have been given a gold embossed ear trophy! This is an award that I would have never won as a teenager but it is one that I have strived for as an adult, both in my personal and business life.


I have consistently set a goal of becoming a better listener to my friends, family, and clients. Ironically, I have received awards for speaking but never one for listening.

I am a member of the National Speakers Association. As you can imagine, not much listening is happening while attending a speaker’s conference. However, in order for me to have success in my speaking business, I have to be in the listening business to understand my clients’ values, goals, and needs.

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that every person—no matter their profession or age—can benefit from being a better listener. Here are 7 tips that can help you win your own best listener award:

1. Focus.

Focus on the speaker completely. Put the smart phone away!

2. Listen before speaking.

It helps the speaker if you simply listen to them before beginning to problem solve or advise.

You have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly.

3. Avoid mind reading.

Avoid anticipating what the speaker is going to say or “mind reading.” Wait until the person has completely finished speaking before you respond.

4. Request more information.

Request more information to assure that you understand. Ask: “Is there more?”

5. Ask the right questions.

Keep in mind that you learn less when you are talking than when you are listening. Learn to ask questions in such a way that the speaker will give you helpful information. Ask open-ended questions: Who? What? When? Where? How?

Listen as if the person you’re listening to is wise.

6. Listening doesn't mean you agree.

Being a good listener does not mean that you agree with what you are hearing, or subscribe to the values of the speaker. Listening is a way of showing respect.

7. Be aware of your biases and prejudices.

Be aware of your biases and prejudices so that they do not filter out an important part of the speaker’s message.

What suggestions do you have for becoming a better listener?