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How to be a better Listener

"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk." --Doug Larson

We all know that we need to listen more and speak less. But did you know that according to the Harvard Review, people who improve their listening dramatically improve their work/school success as well as their relationships with others? How about you? Would you like a big boost in your success and in the friendships with the people you care about? 

Here is the problem with listening. Your brain processes faster than the pace someone speaks. In this space of delay, a poor listener will jump mentally out of the conversation to think about something else. Often he or she is fast enough to jump back in the conversation in time to stay relatively engaged but eventually, when he jumps out again, he stays on his internal thoughts too long and comes back late. This late arrival causes him to miss information the speaker is saying. Poor listeners are like a person trying to host two parties in two separate locations.

Good listeners on the other hand use the mental space between when a person is speaking to build thoughts that enrich and advance the conversation or the learning connection. Instead of leaving the room mentally, good listeners make the room more dynamic. They notice body posture, they hear how the person is breathing, and they evaluate every word. .  A good listener not only comprehends the content of what the person is saying but also the intent, the purpose and the mission behind why this person is speaking.

Good Listeners do these mental activities constantly during listening:

A good listener is laying out what the person is thinking and seeing it from beginning as well as anticipating where this person is heading with the information.

A good listener often makes a mental summary of what is being said as well as what is unsaid. Good listeners are working to grasp ideas being presented. 

A good listener weighs the evidence and the arguments being presented and is considering how this information can be used to make a situation stronger, better or more healthy.

A good listener hunts for ways he or she might be wrong, missing the point, or in error. They use their listening like a puzzle finder searching for missing pieces to their point of view.  Instead of being skeptical of the listener, they are working hard to be find holes in their own thinking.

Good listeners collect information fully until the person has finished talking and then reserves judgment and decisions until he or she has listened from all points of view.

Poor Listeners

  • Become mentally distracted and undisciplined with their thinking.
  • Focus on formulating a rebuttal and listening for ways to attack rather than receive information.
  • Shut down anyone they disagree with.
  • Listen without question to anyone they agree with.

“If we make up our minds to seek out the ideas that might prove us wrong as well as those that might prove us right we are less in danger of missing what people have to say to us.” R. Nichols and L. Stevens.

Getting better is a choice. Listening doesn’t have to be boring. Becoming a better listener could be one of the wisest choices you can make.


NBC Basketball

NBC Camps Academy of Excellence offers summer camps, training sesions, seminars and other education forums to train campers, parents and coaches. NBC Camps is focused on building and teaching living and leading from the inside out not the outside in. At NBC Camps, becoming better is considered a worthwhile pursue whether it's learning to shoot with greater precision,  developing a strong internal confidence and faith  or learning to be a better listener. For more information about their program offerings, visit or call 1800-406-3926

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