Good Listening Habits

Listening habits include a range of skills beyond simply hearing what someone has to say. Instead, listening involves actively understanding what another person is trying to communicate, and good listening habits would be actions that one can take to ensure communication is as effective as possible. Bad listening habits would be actions that make communication less clear, such as missing the main intent or purpose of what someone else is trying to say.

According to Chapter 2 of Business Communication: Process and Product (Guffey and Loewy, 2017), one way to be a good listener is to also be an active listener.

An active listener is one who pays attention to a discussion, rather than simply passively hearing words without making connections. Five examples of good listening habits that would also be examples of active listening would be: 1) controlling distractions, such as external distractions like a noisy environment, or internal distractions, which might be having thoughts that do not relate to the conversation; 2) separating facts from opinions, such as when someone says they dislike someone or something, as not being aware of whether opinions are supported can change how one perceives a topic; 3) identifying important facts within the conversation, as different facts might have different elements of importance; 4) asking clarifying questions, especially when there is a point of possible confusion, as this will help ensure both people are on the same page; and 5) paraphrasing to increase understanding, which essentially involves repeating what a person just said in a different way, to ensure that what is being interpreted is aligned with what the person is actually saying (Guffey and Loewy, 2017).

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Bad listening habits would be those that reduce the effectiveness of communication. Examples of bad listening habits would be: 1) not showing interest such as through gestures like eye contact; 2) becoming easily distracted while conversing with someone, either through environmental distractions or having distracting thoughts; 3) frequently interrupting the other person; 4) not taking notes, if the communication involves important details that need to be remembered; and 5) having body language that seems confrontational, such as constantly crossing one’s arms. Each of these would be negative because they distract from the communication being shared and lessen the chance that the conversation will be actually helpful or effective.

The listening habit I need to work on most would be avoiding external and internal distractions. Often, I can become distracted in noisy environments, such as a loud office or a restaurant, and this can reduce my ability to pay attention. Also, I can be distracted by internal thoughts, such as if I am too hot or cold, or perhaps tired at the moment, these thoughts can also reduce my ability to remain focused on a conversation. I also need to improve on maintaining eye contact and not seeming distracted throughout a conversation.

I can generally tell when others are listening or not listening based on physical cues. For instance, if someone is making eye contact throughout the conversation and visibly nods in agreement, or even disagreement, I can at least tell the person is engaged in the discussion. If they constantly look away, or seem impatient, this suggests they are not listening to me.

On the job, people that I listen to would be supervisors and bosses; coworkers; and customers. Each of these different groups of people tend to have different needs in communication, so it is important to distinguish the other person’s needs and goals with a conversation, as this can help ensure the communication remains effective for the person involved, based on whether they are a supervisor, colleague or customer.

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Good Listening Habits. (2022, Jun 05). Retrieved from

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