The way to improve your listening skills is to practice "active listening." This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, the complete message being communicated.
In order to do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully.
You cannot allow yourself to become distracted by whatever else may be going on around you, or by forming counter arguments while the other person is still speaking. Nor can you allow yourself to get bored, and lose focus on what the other person is saying.
How to improve listening skills:
- Limit distractions. Silence any technology and move away from distractions so that you can pay full attention to the other person. Take note of the person’s tone of voice and body language as well.
- Pay attention to what’s being said, not what you want to say. Set a goal of being able to repeat the last sentence the other person says. This keeps your attention on each statement.
- Be okay with silence. You don’t have to always reply or have a comment. A break in dialogue can give you a chance to collect your thoughts.
- Encourage the other person to offer ideas and solutions before you give yours. Aim to do 80% of the listening and 20% of the talking.
- Restate the key points you heard and ask whether they’re accurate. “Let me see whether I heard you correctly…” is an easy way to clarify any confusion.