Listening Skills

Are you a good listener? Listening is a skill that is valued in the workplace. When you are seeking employment, interviewers will want to know that you have the ability to listen. It’s one of the soft skills that employers look for when hiring.

One way to show your listening skills is to carefully listen to the interviewer’s questions in their entirety before responding. Don’t interrupt and do be sure your responses reflect what you were asked.

Here’s information on listening, why it’s important in the workplace, and examples of skills employers look for when they evaluate job applicants.

The Listening Process

Listening within a work context is the process by which you gain an understanding of the needs, demands and preferences of your stakeholders through direct interaction. Stakeholders might include your boss, clients, customers, co-workers, subordinates, upper management, board members, interviewers and job candidates.

To be a good active listener in the workplace, there are two components, attention and reflection.

  • Attentive listening includes eye contact, posture, facial expressions, gestures and genuine interest in what the person is saying.
  • Reflection includes repeating and/or paraphrasing what you have heard, showing the person that you truly understand what has been said.

What Makes a Good Listener

Good listeners actively endeavor to understand what others are really trying to say, regardless of how unclear the messages might be.  Listening involves not only the effort to decode verbal messages, but also to interpret nonverbal cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions and physical posture.

Effective listeners make sure to let others know that they have been heard, and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings fully.

Examples of Listening Skills

  • A job candidate who summarizes her understanding of an unclear question during an interview and asks if she has it right.
  • An interviewer noticing that a candidate doesn’t look her in the eye when asserting a key strength.
  • A customer service worker rephrasing a problem or complaint from a patron to reassure her that she has been heard.
  • A counselor nodding and saying “I hear you” to encourage a client to share more about a traumatizing incident.
  • A meeting facilitator encouraging a reticent group member to share her views about a proposal.
  • An interviewer asking a follow up question to gain further clarification about how a candidate has applied a critical skill in a past job.
  • A manager summarizing what she has heard as a group consensus during a meeting and asking her staff if she has heard things correctly.
  • An employee restating the specific areas a supervisor wants him to work on improving during a performance review.
  • A salesperson asking an open-ended question like “What can I do to serve you better?” and encouraging his counterpart to share any concerns fully at a client meeting.
  • A nurse letting a patient know that she is aware how scared they are about their upcoming surgery.
  • An employee paying careful attention to a speaker at a training session and asking questions to clarify any information which is being shared.