Can You Hear me Now?

Skills to Practice Being A Better Listener

TED Talks

Zeth DePriest, Activities Editor

Listening is an important skill throughout life. Being a good listener can improve relationships, grades and personal relationships.

Terri Piazza, who teaches a variety of communication classes Allen Community College, gave some steps that people can follow to become better listeners.

Making eye contact is a simple way to improve listening skills.

— Terri Piazza

“Humans by nature are self-oriented. An issue that a lot of people have is that they are thinking on what to say, or attack the person with a response, rather than (listening to) what they are actually saying,” Piazza said. ”A good listener is someone who is ‘other-oriented.’”

Piazza later went on to define being  other-oriented, a concept she teaches in her Interpersonal Communications class.

“We have to learn to be other-oriented to set ourselves aside by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, and by giving them time and attention,” she said.

Being other-oriented shows that the listener is being attentive in the conversation. Showing interest in the conversation forms a connection with the speaker, making your responses mean more to the person involved in the conversation.

Another factor in being a good listener is showing empathy. Showing empathy creates an emotional connection. Creating this emotional connection with the speaker can create a sense of openness, allowing for more personal and intimate conversations. Having empathy in the conversation also helps one understand where the other speaker is coming from.

“Making eye contact is a simple way to improve listening skills,” Piazza added. “Maintaining eye contact helps keep you engaged into what the person is saying, making it less likely that you are going to zone out and not pay attention to what the person is saying at all.”

Following these skills will help make people appear more open, helping to create more meaningful conversations, improve workplace relations and better personal relationships overall.