Are you a good listener?

Episode 34 in Part 3 of our Introduction series: Getting to know others.

Habits:  Quiet | Be curious

Skills:  Communication | Empathy

Description:  In this episode, we dive further into exploring the benefits of becoming a great listener, and we outline four specific ways that you can improve your listening skills, including; focusing on the speaker, not interrupting, avoiding judgment and showing that you're interested. 


How this lesson might be applied in the classroom

This episode carries on from the last episode, and expands our focus on the importance of developing good listening skills to not only understand clearly what someone is saying, but to also learn how they feel about what they're saying too. 

We identify four ways for students to improve their listening skills:

  1. Focus fully on the speaker

  2. Don't interrupt or one-up the speaker

  3. Avoid being judgmental

  4. Show that you are interested

When discussing this episode, some questions might include:

  • Do you believe that you are a good listener? Why/Why not?

  • How do you think you could most improve your listening skills? Why/Why not?

  • Are there benefits to not listening well sometimes? Why/Why not?

  • Why do you think the last two episodes, which talk about building relationships, focus on listening to someone rather than how to talk to them?

  • Do you think it's better for your relationships for you to be good at talking or listening? Why/Why not?

  • Are there any times when talking might be better than listening?

  • Do you think good listening skills can help avoid conflict? Why/Why not?

  • Do you need more skills that just listening to build relationships or avoid conflict? If so, which skills?

Some specific discussion points

Discussion of any literary works, historical figures, or current events featuring prominent individuals offers an opportunity to discuss how listening skills support the relationships and communication outcomes for different people? For example, how do the good or bad listening skills of businesses and politicians impact on their relationships with customers and voters? 

Questions may include:

  • When you think of great listening skills, which person immediately comes to mind? Why them?

  • How has being a good listener helped this person in their life?

  • Do they have other skills and traits that also help them achieve good outcomes in life? What are they?

  • Can you think of someone who is a good listener, but hasn't achieved good outcomes? Who?

  • Can you think of someone who is a poor listener, but has achieved lots of good outcomes in life? Who?

  • How do you think this person might have gotten around their poor listening skills?

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time" — Scott Peck

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you believe it's possible to listen to someone while doing something else? Why/Why not?

  • Is it important to focus completely on a person when they are talking to you? Why/Why not?

  • What benefits do you think you will receive from listening fully?

  • Why do you think people try to listen to others while doing something else?

  • Are there times when you have to try to listen to others while doing something else? E.g. driving a taxi.

  • If you are doing something else when someone starts talking to you, what could you do to listen better?

Further information on this topic

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in watching:


Julian Treasure: 5 Ways To Listen Better


Or you may like to read:

Effective Communication: Improving Communication Skills in Your Work and Personal Relationships.
By Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, (Ph. D.), and Melinda Smith, (M.A.), October 2016 (Last updated).

Please let us know how we could improve this episode?

We're always keen to hear how our work can be improved. If you can think of anything we can do to improve either the delivery of our content, the content itself, the exercises, or our guides to how the lesson can be applied in the classroom, please let us know.