Blog The Top Five Traits Of a Good Listener

The Top Five Traits Of a Good Listener


In a divisive and polarized world, good listening skills are important. We often listen with part of our brains, while the rest is readying a response or rebuttal. Listening for understanding is rare to find, and a treasure when it is. Have you had someone, recently, who simply listened to you with their only goal being to understand you? How would you feel about that person? Listening well is a skill you can learn. It will benefit you and be a gift to others. 

If you want to become a good listener, there are certain traits and skills you will need to learn. Listening is an exceptional skill to develop and it can improve all areas of your life. People love to talk and are always looking for someone to listen to them.

5 Skills For Good Listening:

  1. When listening to someone your goal should be to understand their point of view. Listen to everything they say before forming your own opinion, and remember that you do not necessarily have to agree with them. Everyone deserves, and should form, their own opinions on various topics.

  2. Paying attention is the next trait. If you don’t pay attention you will miss out on important information. Always be aware of what is going on with the person who is speaking, and don’t forget to pay attention to your surroundings.

  3. The action of making eye contact with the person who is speaking, shows them that you are paying attention. If you start looking around you, you are giving them the impression that you are not interested, or have become bored.

  4. Try to look at their point of view and ask yourself if they might be the person who is right.

  5. Allow the person to finish talking. This often takes a little patience, but it can be helpful for both sides. First the person talking can vent their opinions or frustrations. Secondly it helps the listener to fully understand the issue at hand.

A good listener will also think before responding. Again, they often ask what if this person is correct in their way of thinking. People have the undesirable trait of speaking before thinking and this can lead to all kinds of awkward situations.

It is perfectly normal for your brain to want to respond quickly, stop yourself and think before you speak! 

Sometimes it's hard to stay focused on a person. It is normal to want to look away. If you do this, try nodding to the person or making direct eye contact with them. This signals to them you are paying attention. If you really need to look away for a second, then muffle a cough behind your hand!

Other tips that you might want to use to show that you are paying attention include:

  • Saying the person’s name now and again
  • Using facial expressions
  • Using body language

If you make an effort to put these five traits into play consistently, you will become a much better listener - and person - for it.

Here's a challenge:

Find someone who has a different point of view or position on a topic than you and listen to their point of view. Ask questions to understand their position better, not to rebut or to challenge. Look for where the love and compassion are in their position. We don't like to think so, but almost always people form opinions beginning from a place of love and compassion, or general well-being for others. That's why it's so difficult to tolerate other opinions because it's rare that one takes the time to listen for that in the positions and opinions of others.

After listening deeply and compassionately to others, we may not agree with them, but we may come away with an understanding and respect for them and we can put away malice.

Learn more:

How To Be a Better Listener

Active Listening

What Great Listeners Actually Do

10 Steps To Effective Listening

Active Listening Skills, Examples and Exercises


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