Listening is a skill that relatively few people master. Most of us are better at talking than we are at listening. Here are a few tips for being a good listener.

  1. Establish and maintain eye contact with the speaker. True, in the perfect situation the speaker's eyes will be rotating around the table or circle, but any time the speaker's eyes come back to you, they should find you looking intently at them. Looking at your notes or your watch often indicates you are bored with their contribution.
  2. Verbally or with body language, show that you are following what the speaker is saying. If you agree, nod your head, smile, and maybe interject a “That's right.” Be excited that the person is speaking, because that likely shows he feels safe.
  3. In some cases, you will want to summarize what the person has said and ask for confirmation that you heard correctly.
  4. Where possible, show that the conversation is building upon what the person has said. “Mary makes a good point” is a good way to do that. “Good” here does not mean you necessarily agree with Mary, but that she has stated her position well and her point deserves to be considered.