Improving your listening skills


The computer industry has a lot in common with any school or place of education. You will find that you need to be able to understand and recall what people are telling you. To make matters worse you often need to do this in a correct and quick way. This post is about improving your listening skills with a few easy solutions making it easier for you to listen.

First lets look at all the different problems of effective listening.

    1. Pseudo listening – This is the worst one for me to be subjugated to and it is rather easy to spot. Basically anytime you find yourself just nodding along while someone talk and saying “yes, yes, you are right, jepp jepp..” you are not really listening but rather saying, can you please stop talking so I can get to say something now. Other signs is when people are starting to let their eyes wander or they get that really blank stare. All of these are really rude and now that you know about them make sure that you avoid them.


    1. Selective listening – This one can be rather hard to avoid and has to do with distractions, someone has a squeaky chair or  a horrible body odor, basically anything that makes it hard to listen to the person that is delivering the information that your brain should be recording.


    1. Critical listening – This is when you are listening to someone and you spend your time criticizing the person rather than the material, it can be okay to be a critical listener but make sure it is the material rather than the person that you have a problem with.


I bet that you have done one of these, most are probably guilty of all three, they are easy habits to get into and rather hard to break free from after you have started doing them. Personally I am guilty of all three.


    1. Awareness! – The simplest one, now that you are aware of the problems that exist, you will have much easier time spotting when you are not really listening thus making it a lot easier to listen well. (For me this is the number one trick for improving your listening skills).


    1. Be prepared! – If you are going to a large convention, lecture or have an important meeting make sure that you get enough sleep and eat well before the meeting. If you are really tired or very hungry you are never going to remember what was said in that meeting.


    1. Have a goal! – By setting a goal for yourself to listen 100% you prepare your mind to listen a lot better than if you go into that room just hoping to pass the time. Try it!


    1. Sit in the front and center! – This can of course be hard to do at meeting 😉 but if you go to a lecture one of the easiest ways to avoid distractions is to sit in front of all the people that could distract you with movements or their funny t-shirt.


    1. Practise! – Listening is a skill and like any skill you can improve your listening skills greatly by practising them. A good way to practise is to ask someone say a short sentence and then when they are done talking trying to write it down just like they said it.


    1. Fake fascination! – Whatever you do, even if you are bored, do not lean backward and put your hands behind your head, this is a sign that tells your brain that you have surrendered all hopes of retaining anything that is said. Instead lean forward pretend to be interested in what the lecturer or manager currently speaking has to say this will trigger your brain to think you actually are interested and recall more of what is said.


Most of the stuff that I wrote about in this blog post is a summary from a lecture given by Scott Bruecker at the LBCC, USA.


Best of luck!

//Karl-Henrik “KH” Nilsson.