If you ask most people, they’ll tell you they’re great listeners. They believe they are attentive, interested, and eager to hear what other people have to say. Their intentions may be true, but it’s possible they aren’t as good at listening as they believe. The truth is, most people listen to speak rather than to hear.

Communicating is a back-and-forth game. Having a conversation requires someone speaking and someone listening, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

Listening well has become a lost art. Nowadays there are a lot of ways to be distracted when we should be listening. Additionally, we communicate in different ways that leave out important human touches. These contribute to the breakdown of listening well and cause miscommunication. Scrolling through our phones when someone is talking rather than actively listening isn’t a good form of listening. Reviving the lost art of listening requires some simple steps that anyone can do. It doesn’t take much to put your best foot forward when it comes to listening. Sometimes you’ve just got to get back to basics.

Listening well requires your full attention- In a world of multi-tasking, it’s no wonder we tend to listen while doing other things. Being distracted can cause us to fail to truly hear what is being said. Great listeners give their full attention to the conversation at hand. That means stopping what you’re doing to hear the other person. Listening well includes non-verbal communication- So much of what is being said isn’t being said at all. That’s because most of the communication is actually non-verbal. Paying close attention to what is being said through tone of voice, facial expression, and other body language helps people to hear better. Listening well includes encouragement- Great listeners draw out the best in other people. They ask clarifying questions, show non-verbal cues that they are interested in what is being said, and use their body posture and facial expressions to encourage good communication.

Listening well includes slowing down- One of the reasons people listen is to speak. They are waiting their turn to say their piece of the conversation. This can lead to internally summarizing what someone else is saying or jumping in too soon and talking over them. Great listeners don’t rush to judgement or think they have the conversation all summed up. They keep listening until the other person is ready for their input.

Listening well includes insight- Sometimes people don’t communicate well. Great listeners can assess what’s being said and read between the lines if needed. They can see discrepancies or holes and help fill them in by asking questions or seeking to clarify. Listening is a bit of a lost art. Many people are distracted, multi-tasking, or in a rush when they are speaking. This can lead to breakdowns in communication and frustration. Reviving the lost art of listening isn’t that hard when you take time to make hearing intentional.