Why is it so hard to listen actively?


Why is it so hard to listen actively?

Have you ever thought about improving your listening skills? Honestly, most of us haven’t because we simply aren’t aware of the fact that listening is something we could easily improve. Stay tuned to learn how to improve your listening skills by applying a few simple tricks.

First of all, some numbers. Various studies have shown that listening makes up 45% of our communication, but we only take in 25% of what we hear. This fact alone suggests that there’s a lot of room for improvement 😉


Another funny fact is that we can think faster than we speak. According to the US National Center for Voice and Speech we speak 150 words per minute on average, but our brains are able to process around 400 words per minute. This means that we use only 25% of our mental capacity and have 75% free to do all sorts of other stuff and our minds often tend to wander off.’>Kids vector created by vectorjuice

The numbers above might suggest that listening means hard work and concentration, but the good news is that you can improve your active listening skills by trying one or all of the following:

  • Look at the speaker and focus on the overall message – you could even try to do a short summary in your mind
  •  Use your body language to signal the speaker to go on – nodding your head and making sounds of approval invites the speaker to keep talking
  • Ask questions and provide feedback – by doing so, you can make sure you understood the message correctly and you reflect the message back to the speaker
  •  Let the speaker finish their point – communication isn’t a competition 😉
  • Communicate respectfully – e.g., let the speaker finish their sentence before you jump in
  •  Ignore distractions – try to use your mobile phone not at all or as little as possible

Improving your listening skills doesn’t only enhance communication in your work life, but most probably also in your personal relationships. Your partner in conversation – private or work-related – will definitely appreciate your undivided attention and might grant you the same amount of attention in your next conversation. Who wouldn’t want that? 😉

It doesn’t hurt to give it a try 🙂