Here’s a simple test to see how good of a listener you are:

Begin by closing your eyes, and count slowly to 50 (or down from 50 for more of a challenge). 

What happens? How often did other thoughts enter your mind? 

Did you criticize this exercise?

Or did your mind simply wander off?


Do you even know what number you are on?

You’ll be surprised how hard this is. If you can’t listen carefully to YOURSELF how well can you expect to do it with others?

How easily are YOU distracted?

Try this exercise regularly and you’ll get better at listening with focus, which will positively impact your life, both at work and at home.

When someone is angry or upset with you, they just want to be heard and understood, and your listening skills are really put to the test. This is not the time to speak back with criticism, personal attacks, or defensive comments. When you don’t listen, you add fuel to the fire and make the situation worse. 

But if you can focus and be a great listener instead, and respond with thoughtful questions and empathy, you’ll more likely cool the flames.

Think of it this way, if your spouse or partner is giving you the chance to listen it’s because he or she is letting you know about a problem in your relationship, and instead of simply walking away, is giving you an opportunity to work together to solve the problem.

Does that motivate you to develop active listening skills?

Here are the 5 steps to active listening:

1. Simply listen. Don’t interrupt, finish their sentences, or say, “I know that.”

2. Don’t get distracted and let your eyes or attention wander.

3. When speaking, ask intelligent questions and avoid words like “no,” “but,” or “however.” 

4. Try and move the conversation forward with your thoughtful responses that clearly demonstrate you are listening, prompting the other person to speak again (while you LISTEN again). 

5. Don’t try and impress the other person with how smart or funny you are—you want to make them feel that way. You’ll help bring out the best in them and they’ll appreciate you for doing it. 

Now that you know the steps and skills needed to be a great listener, which aspects of your personal or professional life will be the first to benefit?

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 to find out more.

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