The Importance of Knowing How to Be a Good Listener

· January 31, 2017
It's clear that listening is not a passive action. To be a good listener we shouldn't try to be the focus of attention when a person's telling us something.

Listening is not easy. Sometimes we believe that we’re already a good listener just by hearing the words coming out another person’s mouth.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s give you an example. Imagine two friends, and one of them is telling the other that they had an argument with their mother yesterday.

The first friend is worried but, as soon as they finish speaking, the other friend takes the opportunity to refer to a similar experience of their own.

Was the second friend really being a good listener? No, because the second friend has used their concern to introduce their own experience and has thus moved from listening to being heard.

The truth is, the second friend really didn’t listen to her friend.

Mistakes we make when listening to others


You may be doubting all this information. You may even say to yourself “But I am a good listener!”

That is why we thought it was important to mention the most frequent mistakes we make when we “listen” to others.

The first one is the example we mentioned above. Someone tells us an experience that worries us and we use this to talk about ourselves.

In the second case, which is perhaps more drastic, the second friend would change the subject quickly. For instance, if our friend were telling us the argument they had with their mother then our answer would be “Sorry. Anyway, how was work yesterday?”

In the third case, the person who “listens” trivializes the importance of the issue the second person mentions and say phrases like “don’t worry,” “it’s just nonsense,” or ” it will be over soon.”

Finally, the fourth mistake is telling the other person what to do, giving advice and solutions that they may not be able to be achieve.


As you have seen, in all these cases the other person hasn’t really been heard, but we use what they say to talk about ourselves.

Avoiding other people’s concerns

These facts may make us think that we think we’re good listeners but, in fact, want to speak about ourselves.

The truth is that being a good listener is a process that requires attention, addressing the other person’s concerns and not interrupting the other person by mentioning our personal issues.

Even when we tell each other what to do, we’re drawing attention to the way we see things.

It’s true that you can give your point of view, but you shouldn’t tell the other person how they should act or what they should say because you’re not in their situation. If you do this, you’re just trying to make yourself present through the other person.


When you listen poorly to someone, you somehow want to stand out and your own ego makes an appearance.

Although it sounds difficult to accept, when we listen badly we avoid the other’s concerns.

How to be a good listener

Now that we’ve pinpointed the mistakes we make when “listening,” even though we think we do this well, it’s important that we learn to listen again.

That is why it is fundamental to follow the tips that we’ll present below:

  • Never give solutions: As we’ve already mentioned, you shouldn’t provide solutions to the other person’s problems or tell them how to act. However, we can ask the other person questions that invite them to reflect on their problems and make decisions. This is a good way to listen.
  • Dig deeper into the topic: If you’re really listening, ask questions that show your interest in knowing more about what the other person has been telling you. Questions such as “what do you think about it?” and “what are you going to do?” are just a small sample of things you can ask.
  • Avoid talking about yourself: Focus only on the other person, what they’re telling you and avoid talking about yourself unless the other person directly asks you about a similar situation that you have experienced.
  • Don’t underestimate the situation: Although the situation may seem trivial to you, it’s important to the person who is telling you about, so never try to trivialize it.
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Don’t miss: The Dangers of Repressed Emotions

Now you know how to truly listen in an honest way, without thinking about yourself, but about what the other person is telling you.

We have to get rid of the idea that listening is a passive action because it’s very active. That’s why it’s necessary to teach ourselves how to listen.