Most people believe communication is only about speaking. But listening is equally important if you want to connect with people.

As American author Ernest Hemingway said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”

But what are the qualities of a good listener? And what are the traits of good listeners? Are there any specific characteristics of a good listener?

Moreover, how would you know what kind of listener you are, and if you possess the traits of a good listener?

One way to tell if you are being good listeners is to examine the intention with which you are listening. Sometimes you listen only until we get the answer we are waiting for so you can respond. But listening to someone just to respond to them or refute their point is not a good listening practice.

Good listeners listen with empathy, patience, and understanding.

What Makes Someone A Good Listener?

If you have the following qualities, you are a good listener:

  1. You don’t get distracted easily

We all try our best to listen, whether it’s a short meeting or lengthy conference. But some of us get distracted by side conversations or are tempted to reply to a text message.

You may think that it is possible to multitask by doing something else while also listening to someone. But you can’t truly listen to someone and do something else at the same time. Being distracted by another task isn’t one of the characteristics of a good listener.

Make sure you don’t have external or internal distractions to be a good listener. Put your phone away, tune out any side conversations and noise, and shut your laptop. Remember, listening to someone is not the time to show off your multitasking skills. Paying complete attention to the speaker is one of the most important traits of good listeners.

  1. You are eager to learn from others

Has it ever happened to you? Your friend tells you about how he lost a new phone a week ago. And instead of empathizing, you tune him out knowing how forgetful he is. So you are happy to miss out on the new information as you feel you have already heard the same story before. But, if you have the characteristics of effective listening, you will listen intently.

No matter how much you may think you already know about the person, there’s always more to discover. One of the main traits of good listeners is listening with great interest until the end.

  1. You don’t interrupt

Sometimes, you know more about some subjects and are more eager to share your viewpoints than listen to the other person. But you have to listen and make sure not to interrupt.

Patience is among the essential traits of a good listener. A good listener gives the speaker time by letting them complete their point. And if you possess the qualities of a good listener, you don’t interrupt the speaker. Rather, you patiently wait until the end to share your thoughts or feedback.

  1. You ask the right questions

Listening does not mean sitting in silence. Most people forget that communication is a two-way process. So the next time you are listening, try asking clarifying questions at the appropriate moment. Asking thoughtful questions shows that you were paying attention and are interested in the speaker’s points.

The other benefit of asking questions is it helps ensure you have understood the point.  This is one of the characteristics of a good listener.

  1. You accept other opinions

Another one of the characteristics of effective listening is open-mindedness. Remember, a conversation is a dialogue. It’s an exchange of ideas. You must be prepared to learn something new and change your perspective during a conversation.

Unfortunately, many people lack the traits of a good listener and refuse to listen to other perspectives. Knowing and instilling the characteristics of a good listener can help you to see the world from the other person’s lens. So remember, being open to other opinions is one of the key traits of a good listener.

We meet people who won’t stop talking. We also meet people who only listen blankly and don’t bother to respond. A good communicator blends both sides bringing out the characteristics of effective listening. To be a good communicator, you first need to possess the qualities of a good listener. And you can do so by creating a good listening climate at your workplace. Harappa’s Listening Actively course teaches you how to build a listening climate and the best practices used in many organizations to improve listening skills. Join the course today and take the first step towards becoming an active listener.


Explore topics such as Active Listening, How to Improve Listening Skills, Listening Barriers, Listening Process and the Principles of Effective Listening from our Harappa Diaries blog section to ace your soft skills.

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