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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Virginia Tech chapter.

“Okay now, listen up!”

We’ve been told this over and over again, and we’ve had it drilled into our heads since we were little. If you don’t listen, you won’t understand. If you don’t listen, you won’t succeed in school. If you don’t listen, you won’t be able to get a good job. If you don’t listen, you won’t be able to have successful relationships in life.

If we’re constantly being told this, why is it then that most people seem to lack the basics of any skill required to successfully listen? As a communications major, I am regularly reminded of the importance and prevalence that communicating both verbally and nonverbally can have in regards to our careers and futures. It has really made me pay attention to all of the jobs that seem to list “excellent communication skills” as first or second on their list of required skills for the position. Despite this, I have run into so many people, particularly in college, that are absolutely terrible when it comes to listening.

Are you worried about whether or not you are an effective communicator and/or listener? Even if you think that you aren’t, there are always ways to improve. Here are some tips and tricks that you can try to apply to improve your listening skills.


1. Eye contact

Even though this sounds like a simple task, it’s one of the most common mistakes that people tend to make when attempting to communicate effectively.  If someone is looking away from you, naturally you’re going to assume that they aren’t listening to what you’re saying, even if they are in fact listening to you. Do not underestimate the importance of looking someone in the eyes when they are talking to you, even if you feel like it’s slightly awkward.


2. Restating what the person is saying

Although you never want to interrupt the person speaking or talk over top of them, if they are talking for a longer period of time, it can be helpful to indicate that you are in fact listening to them by repeating important points and phrases back to them. It will also help you stay focused on listening to what they are saying and keep you on track.


3. Keep your mind clear

It can be hard to focus on just one thing, especially in today’s society, where we feel as though we have to be constantly multitasking. But if you’re always worried about what assignment you have to start, that email you need to send before the end of the day, or what text you sent an hour ago that still hasn’t received a reply, you’re never going to truly be able to focus on the people who are sitting right there in front of you.

There are so many other things that you can do to help improve your listening skills, but these are just some of the basics that you can start with. Although it’s hard, please try to remember that you’re not the only person who has something to say, and sometimes all people really need from you is for you to sit there and listen.

Image Sources: GIFs from giphy.com

Corinne Gorda

Virginia Tech '20

Proud Hokie alum and HC writer since 2017 here! I "graduated" from Tech in 2020 (Thanks COVID) with a degree in Public Relations, and I'm now a junior account executive for a PR agency. When I'm not working or writing, you can catch me spending time with my man, reading teen romance novels, or obsessing over my corgi.
Kaitlyn Horinko

Virginia Tech '19

Kaitlyn can usually be found 15 minutes early to wherever she's going, with Starbucks in hand. She is passionate about social media and finding new ways to advocate for mental health, and enjoys making playlists, road trips, and writing in her free time.