Last Updated on November 18, 2021 by Dayanand Kadella

Listening is different than hearing. Hearing is our ability, it is one of our five senses. But listening is more than just a sense.

You definitely have heard someone saying that: “You might be hearing my voice, but you’re not listening to me”?

During hearing and listening it may be observed like they reflect the same intent, the difference between these two is fairly significant.  

Here are key characteristics of Listening:

  • Listening is active and present in the present only, Hearing is Passive.
  • It is paying attention to whatever sound being able to listen.
  • It refers to the act of consciously attempting to observe sound.
  • It requires conscious effort to follow the sound. 
  • It is a choice made by our senses, therefore it is voluntary.

When you listen to anything, you are consciously attempting to comprehend it through acquisition, analysis, interpretation, and judgment. 

You don’t think about anything else, wander or become distracted if you’re attentively listening to anything; any sound. You may have observed some people listening to others while gazing at their phones or typing on their laptops, or surroundings for example, and even doing some uncomfortable type of body movement. Listening with this kind of manners is never a smart idea. As we all know, multitasking is never a good idea when it comes to listening. You must pay attention to the sound if you wish to listen well and understand it properly. As a result, it’s always advisable to take a seat and pay attention to what the speaker is saying.

Listening is genuine and makes friends; loyal and sincere friends. It doesn’t cost you money but pays you more than that. It nourishes relations, friendship, and career. 


Here are 9 tips to help you to become an active and effective listener.   

1.   Make an eye contact

While talking to someone don’t try to gaze at your mobile, laptop, and even your surroundings, but just be aware. The more you disconnect eye contact more you disconnect from the person and lose the essence of the conversation and also your connection with that person; friendship and trust.

2.   Be attentive at the moment

I’ve seen people who pretend to be active and listening. But that kind of acting may be recognized easily. And you see that conversation ends. It is much needed to be present at the very moment and pay close attention to whatever is being said. Even the humming has meaning and active listeners can find out that easily. 

Now that you’ve made eye contact, take a deep breath and relax. You don’t have to lock your attention in the eyes of the other person and on the outfit and wearing of that person, it will make him feel uncomfortable. 

You can look away now and then and go about your business as usual, but keep in mind you’re an active listener. What matters is that you pay attention. To “attend” another person, according to the dictionary, means to: 

  • Be present
  • Give attention
  • Pay attention

Distracting factors such as background noise and activity should be mentally blocked out and you don’t have to even wander in them. Additionally, avoid focusing too much on the speaker’s accent or speaking habits, since they might become irritating and feel uncomfortable with you. 

Finally, don’t let your personal ideas, feelings, or biases get in the way, because you’re an active listener.

3.   Keep your mind open

Don’t be a word-to-word and sentence grabber. Listen without making any judgment for the other person. Avoid mental criticizing the person you’re in conversation with. 

If what she says makes you uncomfortable, feel free to be concerned, but don’t think to yourself, “Well, that was a stupid move.” By this, you’ve damaged your efficacy as a listener as soon as you indulge in judgmental musings and lose conversation with friends and colleagues. 

4.   Avoid interrupting the conversation

Avoid offering solutions in the middle of the conversation, wait for your turn to talk. Listen closely and try to find the solutions, if needed. We often advise our children not to interrupt and listen carefully, but have you ever applied what you’ve advised them? That message isn’t getting it through me anymore. The bulk of television programs and reality shows, on the other hand, depict loud, confrontational, in-your-face conduct, which is tolerated, if not encouraged.

Interrupting has a variety of messages. It includes:

  • “I’m smarter than you are.”
  • “I have got the right option.”
  • “Listen; I have got a better idea.”
  • “You know; what I say is more accurate or relevant.”
  • “Why don’t you try this……?”

If you’re listening to someone talking about an issue, don’t offer any suggestions immediately. Most of us don’t want your advice in the first place. We’ll ask for it if we need it. The majority of us prefer to come up with our own solutions, the better we understand. We need you to pay attention and help us in our struggle. If you have a really fantastic answer somewhere down the road, at least obtain the speaker’s agreement. “Would you want to hear my opinions?” you may inquire. 

We all think and speak at a different pace. If you’re a rapid thinker and talker, it’s up to you to slow down for the slower, more deliberate communicator—or for the person who struggles to explain himself in the conversation.

5.   Take advantage of the Pause

Of course, if you don’t understand something discussed, you may ask the speaker to clarify it for you, so that you can engage more in the conversation. Don’t interrupt and wait till the speaker take a pause. Then discover something along the lines of, “Could you please repeat? What you just spoke about… I didn’t get that.”

6.   Ask to understand only

Many times people just ask questions because they want to check the intelligence of the other person. During a conversation, you don’t have to ask the question out of the topic neither to check other people. Rather than ask questions at the pause just to understand. Ask for clarification. Because you may understand something different than that speaker wants to transfer. You can take advantage of the pause to ensure understanding. 

This type of verbal affront occurs frequently. Never redirect the speaker to different conversational paths because there is always too much to discuss. People are led in directions that have nothing to do with where they believed they were headed by our inquiries. We occasionally return to the initial topic, although this is not always the case. Precautions must be taken in the conversation.

7.   Feel the feeling of the Speaker.

If you are listening, means you are active and alert at the very moment. You can feel the feeling of the speaker whatever he/she want to share and show with you. 

If you feel sad when the people you’re referring to expresses sadness, happy when he/she expresses happiness and scared when he/she reveals his/her worries, and you communicate those sentiments via your facial expressions and words, you’ll be a good listener. Empathy is at the heart of effective listening and helps you engage more in the conversation.

To have empathy with the other person, you must put yourself in the shoes of that person and allow yourself to feel what it’s like to be his/her at that particular moment. It sounds simple but not an easy task to do. It takes a lot of mental courage, energy, and concentration. It is, nevertheless, a nice and helpful gesture that fosters connection like nothing else.

8.   Focus and repeat the last words, occasionally

Sometimes during the conversation repeating the last words of the sentence speaker says engage you more. And it also every time redirects the speaker on the topic and let him/her be present at the very moment. Repeating the last words of the speaker must be interrogation type, where it will show you are active and want to know more about it. This type of activity will keep your mind open, simultaneously. 

The goal is to demonstrate to the speaker that you are actively alert and paying attention and following the lines of thought, rather than off daydreaming as he/she speaks to the ether.

9.   Listen with a smile on your face. 

A smile on the face is like magic. Not only when you’ve got eye contact or face to face conversation, but it also helps you to get more concentration on the phone call too. You definitely know what I’m trying to convey. 

When you talk to someone with a smile on your face you get more points to be present from the person on the other side of the phone call. You can easily guess the expressions of the other person on the phone call. Always keep a smile on your face, even on the phone call. It will help you to become a good listener and make the other person more active and comfortable too.

In a face-to-face discussion, the expression surrounding the eyes, the position of the mouth, and the slope of the shoulders may instantly reveal interest, boredom, or annoyance. You can’t ignore these hints. Remember that words only communicate a portion of the content when you’re listening.


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