5 Creative and Fun Ways to Be a Better Listener
To be a great coworker, employee, friend, family member, networker—essentially, to be a great person—you need to master the art of listening.
After all, when you truly pay attention to what others say, you understand far more of their meaning. Your contributions to the conversation become dramatically better. The quantity and quality of the insights and information you get increases.
But even with all of those benefits, let’s face it: active listening is hard.
To improve your listening skills on a day-to-day basis, try out these fun exercises.
1. Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts aren’t just entertaining and informative, they’re also handy listening exercises. Next time you stream one, look for at least one interesting detail or anecdote that you can share with someone else.
It’s impossible to do this without listening extremely well. As a bonus, you’ll come away from every episode with a great icebreaker.
2. Make Up a Password
Going to a social event? Before you arrive, pick a random word or phrase. It doesn’t matter what that word or phrase is, as long as it’s relatively common; for example, in the past I’ve used “napkin,” “great song,” “you never know,” and “Britain.”
Every time someone at the event says your predetermined word, award yourself a point. Not only is this exercise surprisingly fun, it’ll require you to pay attention to every single thing you hear.
3. Challenge Yourself to Learn One Thing
For example, try working on your active listening skills by challenging yourself to discovering a new fact about a coworker every day.
People don’t usually reveal random things about themselves without any prompting, so to succeed, you need to consistently strike up conversations, pay close attention to the other person’s answers, and ask thoughtful, relevant questions.
Do this for 30 straight days. At the end of the month, you will notice you are much better at staying engaged during discussions. As a bonus, you also know your colleagues better.
4. Change Your Perspective
To boost your listening skills, Business Insider writer Richard Feloni recommends varying the ways you evaluate what other people are saying.
“Try listening to a speech from a critical perspective, rapidly processing the validity of statements and their meaning,” he suggests. “Then try listening from an empathetic perspective, focusing more on the emotion of the words and how the speaker is delivering them.”
If you don’t want to try this exercise while you’re actually talking to someone, do it while watching a TED talk or listening to the radio.
5. Paraphrase What the Other Person Says
You can’t sum up the other person’s points without actively listening. So, if you’re trying to become a better listener, concentrate on repeating what they’ve said, using different words.
Here are a couple prompts to get you started:
- It sounds like you’re saying that…
- If I heard you correctly, then…
- Ah, seems like you…
- Based on what you’re telling me…
After you’ve taken these games for a spin for a couple weeks, you’ll definitely notice a difference in your listening skills. And after a couple months? You’ll be an uncontested champion of listening to others. Your career—and your personal life—will reap the rewards.
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