Listening: A 4-Step Guide to Master the Art of Listening

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” ~ Roy T. Bennett

We are living in a world where people feel disconnected from each other. A feeling of alienation is pervading our culture, and there is a deep reason why this is so.

The reason is that we have not yet learned to genuinely communicate.

This is most obvious when observing two people while they are having a conversation with each other. During a conversation, most people don’t truly listen to what the other is saying. Of course, they do hear words but that is very different from listening.

To listen means to understand the meaning that lies behind words. It means to be totally absorbed into what the other is trying to communicate. It means to be focused on the essence of what the other wants to convey through words.

Listening: A 4-Step Guide to Master the Art of Listening

By not being able to listen, we fail to communicate. Naturally, we end up feeling lonely and alienated. When we cannot understand others and others cannot understand us, we feel disconnected from the rest of humanity. When we have nobody with whom we can truly share our thoughts and emotions, we end up being depressed and develop various social phobias.

To feel connected with those around us, we need to start communicating on a deeper level. The basic and most important step to achieving this is by learning how to listen. Only in this way can we have a heartfelt communication where we can truly share with one another.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

Here is a little yet concise guide on how to master the art of listening:

4 Easy Steps to Master the Art of Listening

1. Desire to learn by listening

A conversation is always an opportunity to learn something new. Everyone has a great story to tell, and we can learn from anybody. Many times when someone is talking to us we are just pretending to listen—we hear words, we nod our heads, we show that we understand, but in reality, we don’t.

The reason why this happens is that we are not truly interested to know about another’s story.

We are so filled with our inner chatter, our problems, and concerns, that we don’t have the mental space that is necessary to allow another’s story enter our lives. To genuinely listen, we need to cultivate the desire to learn, to understand—we need to care for what the other has to say.

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” ~ Roy T. Bennett

Listening: A 4-Step Guide to Master the Art of Listening

2. Keep an open mind while listening

Sometimes our ideologies are blocking new ideas from entering our minds. In addition, our opinions, superstitions, and expectations usually color the meaning of what others are trying to communicate to us through the spoken word. When listening to someone talking to you, make sure to leave your belief systems aside for a while and just keep an open mind.

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” ~ Bernard M. Baruch

Listening: A 4-Step Guide to Master the Art of Listening

3. Be receptive while listening

While engaged in a conversation, most of us are continuously interrupting people, not letting others say what they want to say. We are continuously on the lookout for an opportunity to speak about our own story. In this way, however, we do not allow others to express themselves and communicate their thoughts and emotions to us.

As a result, we never get to understand them.

When having a conversation, make sure not to hurriedly interrupt or respond, and stop trying to solve things out or reach to quick conclusions.

Just listen.

Listening: A 4-Step Guide to Master the Art of Listening

4. Be patient while listening

To understand another takes a great deal of patience. Usually, we are in such a hurry that we don’t have the time anymore to get together and listen to each other. And even when we do, we do so in such a quick way that we don’t get anything out of it.

We never get intimate with one another—we don’t allow ourselves to reach another’s mind, heart, and soul. From now on, when you are having a conversation, don’t push it. Give it the time that is needed and just let it flow, allowing yourself to squeeze the juice out of it.

** You want to be heard and listened to but do you concentrate on the quality of your message and on giving to others the gift of your own listening? Share your insights by joining the conversation in the comment section below :)



Sofo is the creator of Sofo enjoys writing on philosophy, art, meditation, and minimalism. His writings focus on how to break free from psychological barriers and attain a peaceful state of mind.

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