Most of us spend more time listening than we do talking. Listening is a learned skill. Since it is a learned behavior it is something that can be improved upon. Whether you are a student or a working adult in a business meeting, you should find the following tips helpful when listening to others.


Our brains can process information at a much faster rate than speakers speak. This can make concentrating on a message difficult. Our minds often tend to wander to personal concerns, making focusing difficult. Listening requires a serious conscious effort.

Do not jump to conclusions.

Do not let something you hear cause you to stop listening. We may decide we don’t want to listen to someone with different political beliefs. We may decide the speaker is unattractive or poorly dressed and tune them out. Be careful not to make prejudicial snap judgments about a speaker.

Resist distractions.

We may not be able to control all the distractions around us, but we can certainly control whether or not we are distracted by our cell phones, digital tablets, or laptops. If you cannot resist the urge to play with your technological gadgets turn them off and put them away.

Do not assume you cannot comprehend the message.

Many people become overwhelmed when faced with having to comprehend difficult material and often simply give up and stop listening.

Don’t pretend to listen.

It is possible to nod and smile at a speaker while daydreaming or thinking of something else. The speaker is generally appreciative and can mistake your pseudo listening for being polite. This can be an easy but potentially dangerous habit to fall into.

Are you passionate about public speaking or communications? UMHB’s Department of Communication and Media Studies seeks to produce graduates who can think critically, reason morally, write and speak with precision and impact, and present performances in a variety of media to audiences of all types. We invite you to visit our website for more info, or stop by for a visit!