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How to Be a Better Listener in 5 Simple Steps

Zoning out in conversations? Wish you could truly connect with people? Master active listening in 5 SIMPLE steps because “Uh-huh” and “cool” won't cut it!
by Chris Allmer | May 24 2024
How to be a Better Listener in 5 Simple Steps

Have you ever walked away from a conversation feeling completely lost, like you just spent 20 minutes staring at someone’s mouth move but haven’t absorbed a single word? 

Me too, friend. Me too. 

In fact, studies show we hear a mind-blowing 30,000 words a day. That’s a lot of information flying at us, and no wonder some of it gets lost in the shuffle.

And this used to happen to me all the time. Dates would end awkwardly, friendships felt strained, and work meetings left me feeling like a deer in headlights.

But then I simply used the power of active listening to become a better listener. And it wasn’t magic, but it felt pretty darn close. Suddenly, conversations flowed, connections deepened, and even those dreaded work meetings became (dare I say) interesting.

In this Blinkist article, you’ll learn how to truly hear what people are saying, build stronger relationships, and how to become a better listener.

How to Be a Better Listener

Here’s where we really get into the “how-to” of active listening. And we’ll break it down into actionable, simple steps anyone can implement:

1. Listen Like You Mean It

First things first, let’s define active listening. It’s more than just zoning out with your eyes open (we’ve all perfected that art, haven’t we?). 

Active listening is about truly paying attention, engaging with the speaker, and making a conscious effort to understand their message – both the words and the emotions behind them.

Check out Ximena Vengoechea’s book “Listen Like You Mean It” for practical tips and scripts to enhance your listening skills and build meaningful connections.


2. Turn Down the Noise

Imagine your brain as a bustling radio station. Sometimes, the signal (the speaker’s message) gets lost in the static (distractions, internal chatter). 

We’ll explore techniques to silence the background noise and tune into the speaker’s frequency. This might involve putting your phone away, finding a quiet space, and minimizing external distractions.

If you really want to explore the importance of stillness and focus, you may find value in the Blinkist crash course “Find Focus: A Crash Course on Stillness is the Key”.

This resource delves into how developing a still mind amidst the chaos of modern life can lead to increased focus, patience, and inspiration.

3. Read Body Language

Did you know that communication is more than just words? Facial expressions, gestures, and even posture can tell a whole story. By learning to read these nonverbal cues, you can pick up on subtle hints that add depth and meaning to the conversation.

If you’re interested in learning more about interpreting body language, I highly recommend “What Every BODY is Saying” by Joe Navarro

As a former FBI agent, Navarro shares his expertise on reading people through their nonverbal communication. You’ll uncover the hidden meanings behind body movements and learn how to become a better listener, just by observing.


4. The Power of the Pause

We often feel the need to fill silences, but sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is simply listen. Take the time to explore the art of pausing, allowing the speaker the space to express themselves fully.

If you’re interested in the transformative potential of silence in communication, consider reading “Time to Think” by Nancy Kline. This book sheds light on the profound impact of attentive listening and respectful silence in relationships. 


5. Listening, then Ask

“Uh-huh” and “cool” only get you so far. If you want to be a better listener and show you’re genuinely interested, you’ve got to ask the right questions the ones that open up the conversation and invite the speaker to share more.

Check out “Doesn’t Hurt to Ask” by Trey Gowdy. This book reveals the power of using questions to communicate, connect, and persuade.


How to Be a Better Listener with Blinkist

Active listening is more than just a skill – it’s a superpower that allows us to truly connect with others and understand their emotions. This article has given you a roadmap to becoming a better listener, from reducing distractions to interpreting body language.

And the best part? Your journey doesn’t stop here. With Blinkist’s massive library of over 7,500 books, you have endless opportunities to keep learning and growing.

Speaking about listening – did you know that you can not just read but also listen to our book summaries? Our top titles are not just broken down into keynotes, they are also beautifully narrated by the Blinkist team. 

Check them out with your 7-day free trial and become a better listener with Blinkist.

Start your free 7-day trial

FAQs: Most Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Better Listener

Q: What makes a good listener?

A: Good listeners do more than just hear words—they actively engage with the speaker. They focus, pay attention to nonverbal cues, empathize, engage with questions, and show patience by letting the speaker finish.

Q: What are active listening skills?

A: Active listening skills are techniques that help you fully understand and engage with the speaker. They involve giving undivided attention, using reflective listening, asking open-ended questions, using nonverbal cues, and minimizing distractions.

Q: I get active listening, but I worry about what to talk about afterward. Any tips?

A: Absolutely! After active listening, use what the speaker shared as a conversation starter. Ask open-ended questions, relate their experience to yours if relevant, and show genuine curiosity about their life and interests. Active listening naturally opens doors for engaging discussions.

Looking for conversation starters? Explore 24 thought-provoking conversation starters from Blinkist designed to deepen your relationships.

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