In this high-speed and dynamic world, the need for effective communication is more urgent than ever. Communication is not just about conveying your idea through words; effective listening is its fundamental tenet. Yet you see fewer people keen on listening and deciphering the meaning than reaching conclusions. Not paying attention to people when they speak leads to rampant misunderstandings among family members, colleagues, and higher management and employees.

Today the best present you can give someone is to give your time. People are so busy that they manage their life activities like hot potatoes on the hand—juggling uncomfortably. Now it is too far-fetched to expect someone to sit near you in peace and listen to you. But in reality, effective listening develops long-lasting relationships, reduces chances of errors and misunderstandings, and improves performance at work, and results in less time wasted on resolving preventable conflicts.

What is effective listening ability?

Effective listening goes beyond hearing the speakers’ words; it is about knowing which is unspoken and or not said fully. Much is told through facial expressions, tones, body gestures — all this is beyond words. If you want to interpret the meaning of a conversation with someone, you must pay attention to inconsistencies in their verbal and non-verbal communication. So, we can say that you don’t listen through your ears only, but the matters go beyond, making your eyes an integral collaborator in the whole process. 

Effective listening is vital to communication at home, too; it makes your kids make fewer silly mistakes and disasters in the kitchen and make them resourceful. Kids can avoid mistakes, while parents can save their marriage by paying attention to their spouses. If you are frequently facing issues due to your hasty judgments and ineffective listening ability, here is what you can do to hone your listening skills.

  1. Prepare yourself to listen

Humans are easily distracted by peripheral thoughts circulating in their minds. Perhaps you are thinking about when to pick up your child from school today or what to cook, or something similar. Due to what is going on around you, you may not be paying attention to the person in front of you. So, when someone is talking to you, try to remove everything else from your mind and get ready to listen to understand, not to respond or nod for the sake of it. When you make up your mind to pay attention, there are fewer chances of getting distracted from unnecessary thoughts hovering over your mind; your mind and body are in unison with the situation in front of you.

  1. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact

Effective listening is to look at the person talking to you and make eye contact. Talking to a person who is scanning the room, shuffling papers, doodling, surfing the internet, scrolling and looking at their phone, or zoned out does not bring any fruitful results. Such people can never offer you their undivided attention and focus on what you say; therefore, they are more prone to misunderstand you. In addition, they also send a message of being bored and not part of the conversation. So, whenever you are talking to someone, make sure to face them; if you are immersed in your work, ask them to wait for a bit so you can be completely free. The more you maintain eye contact, the better you can focus on the matter at hand.

  1. Listen without being judgmental

A cardinal rule of listening effectively is not judgmental of what others say. You have to uphold an open mind and listen to others’ points of view. The more you make them feel relaxed, the more open they are with their thoughts and perceptions. Don’t even try to mentally criticize or comment on their behavior about something because thoughts going on in your mind are often clearly evident on your face.

If you don’t disagree with something they said, reserve your opinion later. Often things become clear when you listen to the whole matter instead of reaching conclusions with half information. Also, don’t try to be a sentence grabber. Often people are not patient enough to let the speaker finish the sentence, so they start snatching sentences and finishing them to speed up the conversation. Remember, this behavior can disrupt the speakers’ thoughts and stop altogether.

  1. Ask the questions at the right time

Often you need to ask questions from the speaker to clarify a point; if so, make sure not to interrupt when they are in the middle of explaining an issue. Wait for the right moment to interject and ask questions to gain clarity. Asking questions midway can put the speaker off base. Moreover, don’t come up with quick solutions or talk aggressively in a talk show. You have to give your speaker enough time and space to present their view. Interrupting in the middle conveys what you think is more accurate than what the speaker intends to say. Or, perhaps it may mean that you are not bothered by what the speaker wants to say. In any case, it is very rude and childish of you to behave like this.

  1. Avoid giving solutions 

People don’t always discuss their problem to get a solution or advice; often, it is more about venting out pent-up anger or thoughts or helping the speaker figure out their solution. Even if you want to offer your brilliant solution, first listen to the speaker attentively, let them finish, and finally ask their permission to present your view.

  1. Limit personal prejudices from obscuring your impartiality

People have their way and pace of talking. Avoid focusing too much on their way of speaking, the use of words, mannerisms, and personal habits. Some people are shy, while others are very aggressive and loud. Even more so, people often have regional accents and body gestures when talking. Your likings and disliking can meddle with your judgment and influence the whole listening process. Therefore, your focus should be on the meaning of what the speaker is saying or intends to say.

  1. Listen to the tone of the voice

The challenging part about effective listening is piecing together all the information conveyed differently. A speaker, when talking, won’t say everything in words; there is much that is told through the hand gestures, eye rolls, lifted eyebrows and frowns, and of course, pitch and tone of the voice. Aggregating information from all these means is the only way to get the right message.


Practicing the art of effective listening is the only way to master this skill. While this might be one of the most underrated elements of effective communication, the centrality of effective listening for meaningful conversations is undeniable. You can only understand others if you let them speak, convey their ideas, and not be judgmental. The more you give people your undivided attention, the more fruitful your conversation with them becomes.


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