Ever wondered why some individuals seem to magnetically draw everyone in, making people around them feel heard and understood?
Chances are, they’re great listeners.
Mastering the art of listening is a powerful skill that can transform our personal and professional relationships.
But what does it take to be an excellent listener?
Let’s dive into the 12 things someone might do if they’re a brilliant listener. Who knows, you might even find some traits you recognize in yourself!
1) They maintain eye contact
How often do you meet someone who looks directly into your eyes as you talk?
It feels nice, right? Here’s why:
Eye contact communicates respect, understanding, and genuine interest. And you know what?
Good listeners understand the power of eye contact.
For instance, when you’re sharing a personal anecdote, an attentive listener will engage you with their gaze.
This approach sends the message: “I’m here with you, and I value what you have to say.”
This means that being a great listener isn’t about an intense, unwavering stare but rather a warm, interested gaze that communicates their presence.
2) They’re free from distractions
Picture this: you’re pouring your heart out to someone, but they’re constantly glancing at their phone.
I bet it doesn’t feel good, does it?
On the other hand, a superior listener creates an environment free from such potential distractions.
They silence their phones, close their laptops, and focus on the conversation at hand. Why?
Because their primary interest at that moment is you and your words. That’s why they make sure nothing detracts from that.
In simple terms, great listeners understand the importance of giving their undivided attention to the person they’re conversing with.
They prioritize you and your thoughts over anything else at that moment.
3) They exhibit open body language
Have you ever noticed how a person’s body language can tell a story without uttering a word?
It’s fascinating, isn’t it?
A person who consistently showcases open body language — leaning in, nodding, and mirroring the speaker’s gestures — is likely actively listening.
These non-verbal cues signal their openness to the speaker’s ideas and emotions, helping to build rapport and trust.
Their open body language says, “I’m open to your ideas and emotions.” It’s their way of building rapport and trust with you.
So, if you ever find yourself talking to someone whose body language is open and inviting, you’ll likely feel more comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings.
4) They offer reflective feedback
Imagine you’ve just shared a complex issue with a friend, and they respond by summarizing your thoughts and feelings accurately.
How would that make you feel? Understood, right?
Well, here’s the thing:
Good listeners don’t just absorb information. Instead, they provide reflective feedback.
They echo the speaker’s sentiments.
This way, they not only demonstrate their understanding but also make the speaker feel validated.
And that’s their way of letting you know that your words matter and that your feelings are acknowledged.
5) They ask clarifying questions
When was the last time someone asked you a question that made you think, “Wow, they really get me!”?
In everyday conversations, we often encounter superficial questions that barely scratch the surface of our thoughts and feelings.
But when someone asks a question that demonstrates a deeper understanding of our perspective, it feels pretty special, doesn’t it?
Great listeners ask insightful questions that show their deep engagement with the conversation.
These questions aren’t about changing the subject or redirecting the spotlight on them.
Quite the contrary.
These are questions that help them understand you better, and ensure they’re interpreting your message correctly.
6) They exhibit patience and don’t interrupt
Ever tried to share something and got cut off mid-sentence?
Let me give you an example:
You’re sharing your hopes and dreams with a family member. It’s a moment of vulnerability and profound openness. But before you can even complete your sentence, they interject with their own opinion, their own story.
To me, only a few things can be more frustrating than this.
Let’s face it: if that’s the case, they’re not good listeners.
Why? Because great listeners understand the value of patience in conversations. They respect your narrative, and your train of thought, and allow it to flow naturally.
The best part? They don’t interrupt or interject.
Now imagine that as you speak, your listeners lean forward, nod at the right moments, and mirror your excited gestures, signaling their interest and engagement.
That’s the power of patience and active listening.
7) They show empathy and understanding
Empathy is a powerful trait, isn’t it?
Great listeners don’t just hear words; they feel emotions. They validate your feelings, offer comfort, and empathize where needed.
By doing this, they’re telling you that it’s safe to be open and vulnerable with them.
They’re creating an environment where you’re accepted just as you are, making it easier for you to express your thoughts freely.
Their empathy deepens the conversation and enriches the connection.
You feel seen, heard, and, most importantly, understood.
You feel like you’re not alone in your thoughts and emotions because they’re right there with you, feeling and experiencing your story through your words.
8) They paraphrase to confirm their understanding
Want to know what strategies great listeners use to ensure they’re fully grasping your point?
Great listeners know the power of paraphrasing. It’s more than just repeating your words back to you—it’s about showing that they’ve truly understood your message.
Isn’t it reassuring when someone paraphrases your words to confirm their understanding?
For instance, imagine you’re brainstorming ideas for a big project with your team.
You pitch a complex strategy, and your colleague paraphrases your proposal, breaking it down into simpler terms and confirming if they’ve got it right.
At that moment, you feel understood. You feel appreciated. You feel like your ideas matter.
It’s like they’re saying, “Let me make sure I got this right.”
This not only demonstrates their active engagement but also assures you that your message is being accurately received.
9) They notice and respond to non-verbal cues
Communication goes beyond words, doesn’t it?
It’s also about the subtle signals we send out, often without even realizing it.
And guess what?
Great listeners pick up on these signals.
They notice your clenched fists, your nervous foot tapping, your joyous laughter, and your teary eyes.
The reason is that great listeners are a bit like detectives of human emotion. How so?
Well, they’re observant and perceptive. And this allows them to notice the unspoken words conveyed through facial expressions, gestures, and body language.
This is a sign that they’re truly tuned into the conversation, ready to perceive more than just the spoken words.
10) They’re present and attentive
Perhaps not surprisingly, a good listener stays present in the conversation, giving you their undivided attention.
They’re not planning their next response or daydreaming about their weekend plans while you’re talking.
Their mind is there with you, focused on your words and the emotions behind them.
Yes, great listeners practice the art of being present.
What I mean here is that they aren’t mentally listing groceries or planning dinner while you’re talking. They’re with you, fully, at that moment, soaking in your words.
And trust me, it makes a world of difference when someone is genuinely present in a conversation.
11) They offer constructive responses
But being just present isn’t enough.
Great listeners aren’t just about nodding heads and “mm-hmm”s. They contribute to the conversation in a constructive way.
Think of a time you were stuck in a tough spot and vented to a friend. A great listener won’t just sit and nod, they’ll throw in their two cents – maybe share a similar experience they had, or even give a piece of advice that could help you out.
But here’s the thing – they also know when to just listen and when to chime in.
They can sense when you want advice, when you need a new perspective, or when you just need them to listen.
By doing this, they’re making you feel that not only are your words important, but your thoughts and feelings are, too.
And this leads us to our last point.
12) They encourage the speaker to continue
Remember the friend who always urges you to go on when you’re in the middle of an exciting story?
They’re probably fantastic listeners.
The thing is that great listeners naturally motivate the speaker to continue by showing genuine interest in the conversation.
Consider this: you’re sharing your wildest dreams or deepest fears with your friend, and they lend you their ear, giving you the space to voice your innermost thoughts. This isn’t just because they’re curious; it’s because they respect your trust.
And here’s the best part:
They keep what you tell them under lock and key. Your words, your stories, your emotions – they stay between you two.
Master the art of great listening
Now you know the 12 things great listeners do. But in the end, being a great listener is about more than just understanding others.
It’s about connecting on a deeper level, enriching our relationships, and becoming a better person overall.
So, next time you’re chatting with someone, why not try out these techniques?
Not only will you make them feel heard and valued, but you’ll also take your conversation game to the next level. After all, isn’t that what great conversations are all about?