The Daily Challenge: Practice Your Listening Skills


If hearing is a physical ability, listening is a skill we must hone.


Listening Well

Time to Read: 2 Mins

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve been listening to someone, but suddenly realized you’ve zoned out and lost track of the conversation? The truth is that while you might have been hearing that person, you were no longer listening. 

You’re definitely not alone in this.

Research suggests that we only remember between 25 and 50 percent of what we hear. Perhaps this indicates that we don’t actually listen to the whole message.

With so many meetings, presentations, standups, and 1-on-1s, the statistic is not good news: we may be missing major details in the instructions or presentations that are delivered to us. 

To improve our ability to absorb and process key information, we need to make sure we don’t just hear; we listen, and listen well.

Today, take a few minutes to think through and commit to using the listening techniques below. 

Step 1: Make sure you understood what was said by paraphrasing. For example, you might say,"What I'm hearing is... ," and "Sounds like you are saying...," are great ways to ensure that you are paying attention to the speaker. Summarize the speaker's comments periodically to help you remember the information and follow along more effectively in the conversation. Some people refer to this as “parroting” and it has the added benefit of communicating to the speaker that you are indeed listening.

Step 2. Encourage the speaker to continue by saying “go on” and asking questions. Your interest and presence in the conversation will be apparent if you verbalize it. Questions will help you explore what the speaker actually means, and what their values are. You can ask them to clarify their points.

Step 3: Use non-verbal communication to show you are paying attention.There is nothing worse than sharing a project idea or opinion and feeling like you are not being acknowledged by your listener. To make sure the person talking to you doesn’t feel that way, you can use body language: 

  • Look at the speaker directly

  • Nod occasionally

  • Smile and use other facial expressions.

  • Make sure that your posture is open and interested.

  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and "uh-huh."

Pro Tip: Don’t interrupt the speaker. Interrupting can frustrate the speaker and limit your full understanding of the message. Allow the speaker to finish each point before paraphrasing, asking questions, or bringing up counter arguments

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