How to be a better listener

Ever find your mind wandering as your colleagues tell you about their weekends and latest projects? Find yourself repeating the same question because you forgot to listen to the answer the first time around? You’re not alone. The reality is that humans just don’t have great attention spans and our memories are terrible.

However, there’s a lot we can do to improve our listening skills. offers a useful list of recommendations that can be applied to our working and personal lives. Read our synopsis below attentively, incorporate the tips into your daily life, and enjoy the results!

Give your full focus to the speaker. Put all your energy into actively listening, understanding and interpreting what they are saying. Don’t flick your gaze across to your phone, computer or the door. You’ll be amazed by how much more you pick up.

Make signs of acknowledgement. Show the speaker that you are mentally present in the conversation by nodding, issuing verbal cues like ‘uh-huh’ and maintaining strong eye contact. Keep your body turned towards the speaker.

Practise internal and external reflection. The first is the process of repeating what the person is saying in your own mind while the second is doing so out loud back to the person, to ensure you are getting the right message. Reserve words of judgement (e.g., ‘that’s terrible’ or ‘how awful!’) for the end of the conversation if you want the speaker to truly open up. For the majority of your conversation, just try to acknowledge and understand.

Ask relevant, timely questions that show you care about understanding correctly, e.g., ‘Can you tell me a little more about what you meant by X?’

Respond honestly and respectfully, even in emotionally charged situations. Your overall goal is to have a meaningful conversation and nurture a positive relationship so no knee-jerk replies, please!

And that’s it. Following the above tips will not only unlock greater understanding. It’ll also greatly improve your work performance and relationships in general. With such valuable prizes in sight, it’s definitely worth making the effort.

Your team of expert recruitment specialists wishes you every success with your listening approach at work and beyond! If there are any other work or recruitment-related topics that you’d like us to cover in future newsletters, please let us know. We are, as always, here to help!