How to Learn to Listen

Listening is a skill that can be cultivated and promoted, in fact it is necessary to do it, especially if we want to authentically relate with others. Who does not like to be listened to with attention and interest?

Now, one of our biggest flaws is that we usually spend more time talking than listening. The problem is that we do not realize the effects this may have on our relationships with others.

Thus, really listening, with attention, is a virtue that allows us to capture what comes to us, analyze the information received, make decisions and give opinions. It is a fundamental process for establishing good communication and enriching our relationships.

“It takes courage to stand up and talk. But much more to sit and listen.”

-Winston Churchill-

Listening is to attend and empathize

In the current era, it is essential to have a certain degree of communication skills, abilities that do not only mean talking, but mainly to listen to those around us. But something that seems so simple, for many it is not so much.

Listening is a capacity that, in general, involves establishing a connection with another person and paying real attention to the information that is being shared; that is, listening implies empathy. For this reason, it is a skill that requires time, practice and dedication.

In reality, most people are not isolated in the strict sense, what happens, sometimes, is that deep and authentic communication is giving way to another more practical and functional; in it, the weight of feelings is less and less and tends to listen less to the interlocutor.

5 keys to learn to listen

Psychologist Daniel Goleman identified listening as one of the main skills in people with high levels of emotional intelligence. So it is key to the management of relationships with others.

So, if you want to develop the art of learning to listen actively, beyond what words count, you can take note of the following keys:

Try to avoid distractions

Consistently, we are exposed to multiple sources of distraction, from external noise such as the sounds of our digital devices to internal noise as our thoughts in the form of concerns.

To listen correctly is important to avoid all kinds of distractions and focus our attention on what the other person is transmitting. That is, it is about focusing on the here and now, in the present moment, on what we are doing.

Ask open questions

An open question invites the other person to argue their story; since it encourages her to respond with something more than a monosyllable.

These interpellations can create a space for a more extensive response, in addition to communicating that empathizes with the other and that is interested in everything they tell us.

Asking open questions to the other person is a good technique to learn to listen, as we encourage you to respond with more than a couple of words.

It is better not to interrupt

If you have trouble avoiding interrupting the conversation and introducing new topics, you have to pay attention, because if you’re just worried about talking about yourself, the other person goes into the background. Therefore, you will perceive that you are not interested.

Thus, it is important to learn to listen with attention and empathy, trying not to be on the lookout to cut the thread of the conversation. Only then is it conveyed to the other that you care about what he is saying to you.

Knowing how to respect the turn of the word, but above all, attend to what they tell us is key to communicate and avoid being part of monologues.

Practice active listening

Sometimes, it can be paradoxical that the lack of communication and the isolation experienced by many people today, is due, to a large extent, to not being heard properly; also, that there is a belief that listening is an automatic process.

Active listening implies, in essence:

  • Pay attention to the interlocutor.
  • Make an effort to get your message.
  • Demonstrate ability to decipher it accurately.

Active listening, in terms of definition, refers to the ability to listen not only to the person who is speaking, but also to decipher the feelings, ideas and thoughts that underlie what is saying.

Listening in an active way requires a greater effort than what is done when speaking and also that done when listening without interpreting what is heard.

Putting aside prejudices

It is important to be aware that when we have a person in front of us, this is not exempt from receiving a judgment and an opinion on our part, independently of the topic to be treated.

The fact of making value judgments of the interlocutor can cause that the attention towards the speech is clearly affected. Hence, it is important to try not to judge the other or at least avoid entering into a negative dynamic of prejudice and criticism.


Speaking and listening, both, are processes implicit in every act of communication.

As we see, knowing how to listen defines us as people and says a lot about us. It is a sign of interest and concern for the other, as well as being a true act of generosity.