Listening Skills

by Steve Roche

Testing your listening

How do you know?

What evidence can you draw on to know whether you are listening well?

One option is to seek feedback:

‘Did you feel listened to? If not, why not?’

The speaker may mention some habit (perhaps a posture) that you are unaware of. If the habit distracts them, they get the perception you are not listening, even though you did actually understand.

The speaker has to see and hear and feel that the listener is getting the message. Some people have a pattern of needing to be convinced a number of times. They will need to be paraphrased more than once to fully believe it.


Here are some common reasons for people not listening (or giving that impression). Which ones have you been guilty of?

I do not listen because I am...

  1. Rehearsing my reply while the other person is still talking
  2. Worrying in case the other person won’t accept my response
  3. Getting impatient for them to finish so I can start talking
  4. Trying to do something practical and listen at the same time
  5. Not interested in what they are saying
  6. Thinking about something else while they are speaking
  7. Thinking that I know what they are going to say before they say it
  8. Dismissing what they are saying as irrelevant to me before hearing what they say
  9. Finishing off their sentences
  10. Getting bored and switching off
  11. Thinking they are going too slowly to keep me interested
  12. Wanting to speed things up by interrupting or talking about something else
  13. Talking over the other person
  14. Assuming that they don’t know what they’re talking about before they speak
  15. Fidgeting and appearing not to be listening.

How good a listener are you? Click here