How to be an Effective Listener

You can only hear when you listen

Effective listening was not a strength of mine. Years ago if you walked into my office I would continue to work and talk at the same time. There were even times when I would respond with my back to the person that was talking to me. Looking back this was so rude and disrespectful.

I constantly received poor results regarding my listening skills on my 360 reviews and I could not understand why. Finally, I asked my team members and peers to provide me with examples when I was demonstrating poor listening behavior.

They identified several bad listening habits:

  • I did not look at the person while they were talking.
  • I would nod up and down quickly to rush them along as they spoke.
  • I would interrupt them speaking with a reactionary response.
  • I rarely if ever followed up if they had questions.

It was not until the feedback was given to me that I began to read books on how to listen more effectively. Honestly, it was the best thing that could have every happened to me. I took what was once identified as a weakness and turned it into a strength. What that experience taught me was that listening skills can be learned and are developed over time.

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So, to shorten your learning curve, here are six simple skills that leader’s utilize to listen effectively.

  • When someone is speaking to you, stop what you are doing.
  • Look at the person while they are talking.
  • Eliminate the reactive responses.
  • Respond only during the pauses in the conversation.
  • Take Notes.
  • Ask effective questions and follow-up if necessary.

It’s important to note that when someone takes the time to tell you anything it is your responsibility to listen to him or her. When you really listen to what others have to say, you become more knowledgeable and more effective. The truth is…you CAN only hear when you listen.

Have an amazing day!

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 4

  • Sharon Williams says:

    The good information in this article, and in the author’s profile, is marred by the incredibly poor grammar and punctuation used in both places.

  • Dr. Donna Thomas Rodges says:


    Thank you for your honest and candid feedback regarding both the blog and my bio. When you have a moment, can you share your bio and your blog site? I would love to see how it’s done properly.

    Have an amazing day!
    Dr. Donna

  • Richelle Anderson says:

    Donna, this is great advice. The biggest issue that gets in the way of relationship building is not listening. One issue I had was trying to figure out my response before they were finished. When you are doing that you can’t listen either. Takes a lot of work to break those bad habits but worth it.

  • Dr. Donna Thomas Rodgers says:


    Thank you very much for sharing your perspective. Yes I agree it does take work to get rid of those bad habits. I will also say that it is well worth the effort.

    Have an amazing day!
    Dr. Donna

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