How to be a Great Listener: Tips on Strengthening Relationships

March 21st, 2022

Have you ever struggled with effectively communicating in a relationship? Do you often feel others aren’t listening well to you? Well – one of the best things we can do when we feel someone in our life isn’t listening to us well, is to focus on being a better listener toward them.

Communication in our relationships is everything – and unfortunately, most of us aren’t ever formally taught how to communicate in an effective way. One of the key components of being a good communicator is being a good listener – and I’ve got 7 tips that can help! I encourage you to think about which tips you are great at, and which you could maybe tweak up a bit

How to Be a Great Listener

  1. Maintain eye contact when you are listening to someone. This keeps your mind from wandering and communicates that the person has your full attention. Refrain from rolling your eyes in disgust, closing your eyes when they seem passive-aggressive, looking over their head, or staring at their shoes while they are talking.
  2. Don’t engage in other activities while you are listening to another individual. Remember, quality time is giving someone your undivided attention.
  3. Listen for feelingsAsk yourself: “What is this person’s emotions right now?” When you think you have the answer, confirm it. For example, responding with “It sounds like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot we had planned that date night”. That gives the person a chance to clarify their feelings. It also communicates that you’re listening intently to what they are saying.
  4. Observe body language. Clenched fists, trembling hands, tears, furrowed brows, and eye movement may give you clues as to what the person is feeling. Sometimes body language speaks one message while the words speak another. Ask for clarification to make sure you know what the person is really thinking and feeling.
  5. Refuse to interrupt. Focus on listening to listen, rather than listening to respond.
  6. Express understanding. Others need to know that they have been heard and understood.
  7. Ask if there is anything you might do that would be helpful. Notice you are asking—not telling—the person what they ought to do. Never give advice until you are sure the other person wants it.

Social relationships are an important part of our lives as humans are social beings. One of the most important aspects of maintaining strong relationships is effective communication. Many people have difficulties with communication because they forget about the importance of active listening. Follow these tips to strengthen your relationships and reap the benefits of enhanced connection!

Ph.D., RCC
Psychological Health & Safety Clinic
Vancouver, V6B 0L1

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