How can you learn to listen deeply

Learning to listen - this is how you appear more personable, improve relationships and ...

Information overload, hectic rush and stress often lead to active listening being neglected. Either "one ear" is listened to, conclusions are drawn too quickly, or it is talked too much and listened too little.

That's a shame because active listening has many advantages and shows real communication skills. Whether at work or in private, active listening is true Miracle tool. You can learn more about the advantages and which Techniques and Exercises can help you become a better listener.

1. Why listening is important

We show the interlocutor appreciation and respect, because active listening shows real interest at the other. That usually makes the other happier because they are "heard". This in turn leads to the fact that this person likes to spend time with you and himself rather opens up to certain topics.

also we prevent misunderstandings and arguments. Since we assume less and start from ourselves, we develop Understanding of needs and desires of the interlocutor. We develop empathy.

We are not too quick to draw conclusions or recommend solutions that do not fit. This is a problem especially for experienced people with a high sense of mission. Then there is no active listening and inquiries. The so Actor does not go deep, but rather quickly means to know what the other means, what moves him, what the right solution is, etc.

Through active listening and patience, we learn more and can do it ourselves or together better solutions find and make decisions.

By listening we receive information, new ideas, new knowledge, different perspectives. Who listens learn more than the one who speaks.

There is a saying in India: "Listening is more convincing than arguing". And indeed, Harvard Professor William Ury was able to show in studies that people who actively listen to their interlocutor achieve better negotiation results than those who only come up with their own arguments and solutions. We convince more through active listening than by talking a lot .

With a little practice we can do this Control conversations and the Improve the relationship level with the interlocutor. If that's not a reason to listen a little more and more actively. When actively listening, what should we do and what should we avoid?

The good conversation

In 2008 the Allensbach market research institute conducted a survey of 1,800 Germans. They asked what constitutes a good conversation for them. 80 percent answered "listen".

"If you want to go far in life, you have to be able to do two things: laugh and listen."

From Manchuria

2. Learning to listen: do's and don'ts

2.1 The setting

It is important to have the right attitude towards the person you are speaking to or to conversations. So what is the attitude with which someone listens? Anyone who wants to understand others better and to improve and strengthen relationships has a good starting point. Whether in a partnership, as a manager or as a salesperson, we communicate. The better we do this, the more stable relationships are, anger and arguments are reduced, and we are more respected.

2.2 Body language

This attitude is also reflected in the body language attitude. Am I really facing the other person and making eye contact or am I more likely to turn away and keep looking at my computer or smartphone? Admittedly, this reads a little exaggerated, but just observe your surroundings while communicating.

2.3 Send characters

The active listener sends warning signs verbally and non-verbally. We signal that we are listening through confirmations such as "aha", "ok", "interesting" or nodding in body language, opening the mouth slightly or raising the eyebrows. In a professional context, I also use notes to signal that what has been said is important to me.

2.4 Take time

As a result, taking enough time to talk should result. But it should be mentioned again. It is also helpful to create the right framework for some topics. There are many issues that do not necessarily encourage willingness to talk between the door and the hinge.

2.5 Let us finish

Another aspect - we should let the other finish speak as much as possible and not constantly interrupt or finish the other's sentences ourselves.

It is also important to maintain silence in conversations. Please do not name possible alternative answers too quickly after a question or even answer the question for the other person. Give your interlocutor time to think and formulate. Helping the other person is rarely seen as appreciative and falsifies the result.

2.6 Develop empathy

The more we put ourselves in the other person's emotional world, the more empathy we develop. We virtually take the other person's point of view and are thus more likely to recognize their motives, wishes, worries or needs.

2.7 Listen more openly

We humans are prone to prejudice. What we do then is selective listening. We always hear what confirms our prejudice. This can prevent active listening.

We don't have to like everyone or approve of everything. But we should always give our interlocutors a chance and try to listen a little less prejudice.

Mark Twain put it so well: "The only person who behaves sensibly is my tailor. He measures every time he sees me, while everyone else keeps applying the old standards."

Active listening according to Rogers

According to the American psychologist Carl Rogers, when you're active, listening is the emotional content of a message is more important than the factual. Therefore, attention should be directed to the side of the "heart" rather than that of "reason". In addition, no technology would help if the listener does not adopt an attitude of authenticity and understanding.

“Learn to talk; but also learn to listen. "

August von Platen-Hallermünde

3. Learn to listen even better: Listen actively

In my seminars we mainly practice the following techniquesthat offer themselves with active listening. The techniques are interpreting, verbalizing, paraphrasing, nd-technique and asking questions.

Since active listening should not only understand the subject, but also the feelings and emotions that resonate, it is important to pay attention to the body language of the other. Stress, gestures and facial expressions help "read between the lines".

3.1 Interpretation

When interpreting you formulate what you believe, what the partner meant on the factual level. You repeat it in your own words to see if you understand correctly.

  • "So it is important to you that ...?"
  • "Do you think that ...?"
  • "Do I understand correctly that ...?"
  • "So you want ease of use?"
  • "So you're wondering if ...?"
  • "Would you like us to prepare the lecture together?"

3.2 Verbalization

When verbalizing, state what you think the partner felt comfortable with making the statement. We react, as it were, to the emotions or feelings shown in a statement. That is why the conscious reception of the non-verbal signals is very important here - sound, facial expressions, gestures ...

  • "So it annoys you that the others don't coordinate with you?"
  • "Now you are frustrated because you have to postpone your vacation."
  • "When you talk about it, you sound enthusiastic."
  • "That sounds like you're pissed off."
  • "The print function of many manufacturers annoys you and you want better functionality here?"

3.3 Paraphrasing

When paraphrasing, you repeat a sequence literally what the interlocutor said in order to find out more about this aspect.

  • The person you are talking to: "I wonder if I can even finish this. It won't do any good."
  • You: "It doesn't do any good?"

It is also possible to repeat just one word questioningly. This is called then nd technology.

  • Your interlocutor: "Actually, I wanted to cancel the vacation."
  • You: "Cancel?" or "actually?"

3.4 I-statement

In the I-statement you give your own impressions, sensations, opinions or assumptions and start with "I".

  • "I'm surprised you see it that way."
  • "I see it this way."
  • "I see the situation differently."

Use it better no you statements. Most of them seem instructive and arrogant. Conversations tend to be frostier - the relationship level is disturbed.

  • "You have to see it that way."
  • "You should see it that way."
  • "You see that wrong!"

3.5 Inquiries

Inquiries are of course also important, if Terms are unclear, Aspects not understood be or further details important are.

  • "What do you mean by …?"
  • "For what reason …?"
  • "By when would you have wished for the solution?"

With all of these techniques it is important that they are used with the attitude that they understand the other person better. Really active listening. Through the techniques and their posture activate the conversation and you learn more about reasons, motives, problems and conflicts. Conversations take longer, especially at the beginning, and may also be more exhausting. But every problem understood, every conflict resolved, etc. saves energy and time in the future and enables more joy and success in conversations.

Four sides of a message

The German communication scientist Friedemann Schulz of Thun has developed another helpful model on the subject. It divides statements into a factual statement, the statement on the relationship level, an appeal level and the level of self-disclosure. This model also helps improve active listening. Here is a book recommendation on the topic and a book summary on blueprints.

"Being able to listen is half the success."

Calvin Coolidge

4. Exercises to learn more and better active listening

For this purpose, we would like to introduce you to short exercises that you can use promptly in your private and professional life.

Exercise 1: The next time you call, record what you say and ask. If you use the landline phone, you could use your smartphone to record, for example. Please do not record what the other person has said, it violates data protection. Unless you got permission.

Now analyze your conversation afterwards. How many questions did you ask? Where did you actively listen and where did you suspect? Where should you have been silent instead of talking? What was your share of the speech? The conscious reflection of one's own communication behavior creates problem awareness and helps with further development. You will reduce your blind spot and become more confident in your communication.

Exercise 2: For the next important conversation, please write down possible questions and statements for each of the active listening techniques presented above. Take 20 minutes to do this and try to use the statements and questions in a similar form in the conversation.

Exercise 3: Record your statements during a phone call that you prepared as in exercise 1. What did you notice?

Exercise 4: After a conversation, ask someone for feedback. For example, you might ask, "Did it seem like I was listening to you?" "What did you miss?"

This is what it takes some courage. But the price you get is higher communication skillsthat you can use over and over again.

From the seminar

Sometimes in the seminar I am asked: "How do I tell someone who cannot listen that he cannot listen?"

Hm - one tricky business. For one thing, you shouldn't assume that the other cannot do it. Maybe he doesn't want to, or maybe he thinks he's listening.

If you think your feedback could lead to a positive change, then give it a try. Remember the feedback rules. Here you will find an article on the subject of feedback.

Otherwise, another option is one good role model to be. Show the behavior that you want.

"... the benevolent wish of a single friend who listens to you with sincere interest for ten minutes is a real living, helpful power ..."

Prentice Mulford

5.Download: Memo card on the subject of "Learning to listen"

Here you can find the memo and reflection card on the topic. The card is in quartet format (6 x 9 cm), so it fits comfortably in a jacket pocket or wallet.

Learning to listen in the family and learning to listen in elementary school are important for children.

6. Learn literature, quotes, and videos to listen to


6.1 Learning to listen to literature



Quote to learn to listen partnership and children

"If a woman doesn't speak, you shouldn't interrupt her under any circumstances."

Clint Eastwood

"How nice when you start the art of listening at home. How happy the children are, who are used to everyone at the table telling something about what they have done and thought during the day and that everyone listens too. Children need both - Talking and listening. This is how they feel about groping into the realm of ideas. As we listen to them, they will listen to others. "

unknown author

"Don't brag too much, because someone who knew you as a child might be listening."

From China

"First look carefully who will be listening to you, then talk."

From Georgia

Quote learn to listen

"A bore is a person who speaks when you want him to listen."

Ambrose Bierce

"Being able to speak is not worth as much as being able to listen."

From China


6.3 Videos

Listening from a brain-technical point of view - Prof. Dr. Gerald Hüther

7. Conclusion

Active listening is a great tool to better understand our environment, to find good solutions with others, to resolve conflicts and to improve the level of relationship with the interlocutor.

How can I learn to listen? Four techniques and four exercises we have presented. Whether in private or at work -be sure to try it out. You will be surprised - and positively. ;-)

Learn to listen even better. It is worth it .. Whether you listen better to your children, your partner, your work colleagues ... listening is that Key to important information and stable relationships

further article on the topic:

Listening is gold

7.1 Listening is gold or why listening makes us better

Although we two ears have and just one mouth, stands the use of these organs sometimes in an outright manner appalling disproportion.

That's a shame because listening is so helpful and valuable. Read here some (sometimes biting) thoughts on the topic and try the listening exercise.

Continue reading ...

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Written by Michael Behn
Last updated: March 18, 2021