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What does listening look like?

Take this quiz:

  1. When talking to others, it’s important to make eye contact:
    • True
    • False
  2. Interrupting is a good way to show that you have listened and that you understand what the other person is trying to say:
    • True
    • False
  3. Asking questions proves you didn’t listen and is bad form. If you were listening, why would you have any questions?
    • True
    • False
  4. Facial expressions are distracting and are bad for listening.
    • True
    • False
  5. It is rude to focus your attention elsewhere when someone else is talking to you:
    • True
    • False
  6. When someone is speaking to you, you should plan out your response as he speaks so that you can carry on an intelligent conversation:
    • True
    • False
  7. Good listening skills involve more than just hearing:
    • True
    • False
  8. People think faster than they speak:
    • True
    • False
  9. You can listen by watching the speaker’s body language:
    • True
    • False
  10. If you’re at a seminar and one of the speakers is boring with all of his “ums and ahs,” it’s okay to tune him out because that is just annoying:
    • True
    • False

Answers to quiz:

  1. True
  2. False
  3. False
  4. False
  5. True
  6. False
  7. True
  8. True
  9. True
  10. False


1. Pay Attention

Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly.

  • Look at the speaker directly.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts.
  • Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
  • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.

2. Show That You’re Listening

Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.

  • Nod occasionally.
  • Smile and use other facial expressions.
  • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.

3. Provide Feedback

Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions.

  • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” and “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?”
  • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.

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