“We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”– Epictetus, Greek Philosopher
So, what exactly does it mean to be a good listener? Perhaps, a good place to start is to think about the difference between listening and hearing. Hearing is merely one of our senses; it happens when sound hits our ears and involves the processing of these sounds in the brain. You can hear a lot of different things – cars passing, footsteps, doors opening, these are all part of what we hear on a daily basis. It’s very much a passive physical process. On the other hand, listening is a conscious action we take. When we listen, we go beyond simply hearing words by focusing our attention to what is being said. Here are some top tips on how you can become a better listener.
Being mindful and present during a conversation is a sign of a good listener. When you’re fully aware in the moment, you are more likely to retain the information you are hearing and respond in a way that is more authentic. You will find that a good listener will put everything down and focus on the person they are talking to. As a result, the other person instantly notices that they have an interest in what is being said and ultimately, be made to feel important.
Good listeners do not only sit silently whilst nodding along to the conversation, but they also try to go deeper to understand the substance of what the other person is trying to convey. Asking questions to clarify understanding prompts the other person to articulate their position better and thus, makes the listener see issues in a different light.
Being empathetic is another characteristic of a good listener. Listening to someone with your full attention and noticing all the non-verbal signs shows that you are utilising all your senses to understand, not only what the speaker is saying but also how they are feeling. It enables the listener to truly see the other person’s perspective and express genuine understanding. When you listen to another person with empathy, you are giving that person a chance to truly express themselves and feel heard, and essentially that is what being a good listener is all about.
Consequently, being a good listener connects you to the world around you. Besides the practical benefits, being a good listener is important for your professional and personal life as it fosters meaningful relationships with those around you, whether it be at work or home. Listening to others is also important for your personal development because it allows you to expand your horizon. We don’t learn things from what we have to say; we learn from what others have to say. One of the best ways to grow is to expose ourselves to other thoughts, ideas, opinions, experiences and perspectives and we ultimately do this by opening our minds and listening.
Coworking spaces provide the perfect platform to grow in this way, as there are so many people, from all walks of life, coming together in one shared space. If you want to find a workspace that helps you develop, book a tour of one of our spaces to see all that we have to offer.