When we’re constantly fixated on what we’re going to say next, or how people have interpreted what we’ve already said, we forget that being a good listener is equally important to the conversation. This video from The London School of Life reminds us how a good listener inspires quietly instead of nagging endlessly.

1) A good listener asks: “What’s on your mind?”

When we’re trying to make tough decisions, good listeners use gentle encouragement to help tease out what’s really at the heart of our anxieties.

It’s not always easy for us to know what’s bothering us—a gentle and constructive push with a good question can encourage us to explore what’s on our minds, and help clarify what might be causing us trouble.

2) Good listeners go beyond anecdotes

It’s hard to find the root of where our feelings comes from, but easy to simply mention that something is lovely or terrible, nice or annoying.

A good listener can help us clarify it.

They look for the bigger picture by taking your piecemeal thought or complaint and turning it into solid ideas by connecting it with your broader history, bringing anecdotal thoughts up against underlying issues.

3) The good listener is acutely aware of how insane we all are

Good listeners allow us to be vulnerable—they don’t invite us to open up and then immediately reject us for our follies.

Instead, their skillful and useful small feedback can make tense moments of dialogue easier. For example, the little positive strategic sounds, like “MMMMMM……” that delicately signals sympathy without intruding on what we’re trying to say.

Good listeners allow us to be vulnerable—they don’t invite us to open up and then immediately reject us for our follies.

Without judgement and criticism, we can feel free and safe to express our feelings without worrying about losing our dignity—or a friendship.

4) Good listeners separate disagreement from criticism

A friend who is good at listening is willing to build a safe environment for you and help you to be yourself. You don’t need to be afraid losing them if you have any disagreement with them—they make it clear that their company is not dependent upon an unattainable state of perfection.

Why Listening is the Most Radical Act

Are You Hearing Me?

Margaret Zuo

Margaret Zuo is an international student in the one-year bachelor of journalism program at University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She completed an undergraduate degree in communications in China in 2016.


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