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6 Steps to Becoming an Effective Listener

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

For our tech-savvy, social networking generation, communication has taken a distinct direction making it easier for people to communicate wherever, however, and whenever. As our tendency to communicate online has increased, our ability to communicate face-to-face may be declining. 

As students, we deal with a lot of stress. Exams, applications, living away from home, relationships, work, and personal issues may be overwhelming at times. When someone comes to talk to you about their issues, ask yourself this question: are you listening, or are you waiting for your turn to discuss your issues? Effective listening is a rare skill, which not many of us have. In times of need, people really appreciate when you genuinely listen to them. Active listening can resolve issues, build relationships, and relief stress.

So next time a friend or colleague asks if they can vent to you, take these 6 pointers into consideration, and show them what a great listener you are.

1) Show them that you’re interested. Show that you’re listening to them. Make eye contact and nod at times. Reassure the speaker that they should keep talking.

2) Give them your undivided attention. Scrolling through your news feed or answering texts while someone is talking to you is not only disrespectful, but it shows that you don’t care, and that what they’re saying is uninteresting to you.

3) Don’t interrupt. Don’t try to finish their sentences, it’ll throw them off guard, especially if it was the complete opposite of they were about to say. By interrupting your sending out negative messages such as:

·      “What I have to say is much more important/interesting than what your saying”

·      “I don’t have time for this”

·      “I want to lead this conversation now”

4) If you’re not asked for your advice, don’t give any. Sometimes people just need to vent, they don’t need you to solve their problems. If you really think that your advice will help them, ask permission before you proceed. E.g. “Would you like my opinion or advice?”

5) Keep the conversation on them. If they do decide to ask for your opinion, don’t forget what they were initially talking about. Try not to relate it to your own experiences, and change the conversation to yourself. They came to you to talk about themselves, so keep the focus on their conversation. Instead, tell them what you think, and ask them how they feel about taking this or that approach.

6) Wait for pauses, to ask questions in order to understand what they’re saying. If you’re going to ask questions, make sure the questions don’t stray away from the initial subject. E.g. If an old friend (let’s say…Alex) comes up in the conversation, there is no reason you should ask what Alex has been up to and how much you miss her.  Also, asking them to repeat what they said will not offend them; it will show that you’re trying to understand the conversation. 

Conversation is a part of our everyday lives but the question remains, are you really listening?


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Emily Webster

Wilfrid Laurier

You will typically see me with a large cup of tea and browsing social media under the fairy lights and reading up on my favourite lady bosses (Mindy Kaling let me be you please). Also my trivia regarding superheroes is endless. I have more music than time to listen to and someone definitely should consider taking away my blogging privileges. My love for pop culture is limitless and Netflix is the true MVP in my opinion. Contributor writer for HerCampus Laurier Stalk me and let's be friends here: Insta & Twitter: webofem