Being a great listener is entirely up to you.

Being a great listener is an active process that involves three elements. When used together, these three elements make up what best-selling leadership author, Marshall Goldsmith, refers to as, “Active Listening.”

The 3 Elements of Active Listening

1. Listen, and then think before you speak.

First, just shut up and listen.

If only it were that simple . . . we’d probably all get along a lot better! Unfortunately, this is hard if you’re upset, angry or confused about what you’re hearing.


Think back to your last argument, whether it was with a coworker or a spouse. Did you resist the urge to interrupt them, or did you jump right in with your defense?

Listen carefully and objectively, and then think about your response. If you can do this, you are less likely to misunderstand and cause further communication problems.

Remember, the way you speak is a measure of how well you’ve listened.


2.  Listen with respect.

Now that you're listening carefully, are you totally engaged with what the speaker is saying?

Keep your eyes (and your attention) on the person speaking. Don’t be checking your phone or have one eye on the TV. Giving your undivided attention makes the other person feel like the only person in the room—that’s incredibly positive and empowering.

3. Test your planned response by asking “Is it worth it?”

Before you respond, you need to ask yourself if your response is worth it. In other words, take a moment to reflect on the possible consequences of what you’re about to say. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re right, you need to think about their likely reaction.

You don’t always have to have an opinion, a comment, or speak up. There are times when your “two cents” aren’t needed! Keep in mind that you don’t have to agree to understand.

So, once you have your response, ask yourself:

  • How will they feel after hearing it?
  • What will they do?
  • How will they feel about me the next time we speak?

Your only job while listening is to understand the speaker’s experience, feelings, and point of view, not just the content. If you can move beyond the age-old “What’s in it for me?” and get to “What’s in it for HIM OR HER?” you’ll begin to see the bigger picture.

Join the discussion on sageCrowd’s Marshall Goldsmith Channel and learn the steps to better listening and share with others who are improving their listening skills.

Visit www.sagecrowd.com to find out more.

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