Are You Listening or a Listener-In-Training?


By Rita Santamaria

High ranking military officers, surgeons, CEO’s, and people not accustomed to taking orders are not the best listeners, we are told.  On the other hand, actors and athletes, for example, are good listeners as they are accustomed to being coached.

Some people do not listen because they just don’t want to.  Others consider themselves multitaskers and believe they can do many different tasks at one time.  In doing so, they’re unable to listen attentively because they are distracted by multiple activities taking place simultaneously.

Here are some suggestions for being a listener-in-training:

  • Be aware of listening to the speaker.
  • Prepare to listen by focusing on the speaker.  Put other concerns or distractions out of your mind so you are not sidetracked.
  • Don’t doodle; don’t look at the computer screen; and don’t glance at your cell phone.  These are behaviors that distract the listening process.  They also send messages to the speaker that you are bored at best and not interested in the least.
  • Not only are you listening for the verbal but you are listening for inflection, pitch, volume, and body language.  The verbal may be saying one thing while the body language is saying something different.  The messages may be simple but the inflection and volume of the conversation may increase the importance of the message by the sender.
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker.  Waiting until the speaker has finished talking is just good manners.  Wait until the speaker has finished their talk or conversation and then add your thoughts.  And, don’t start thinking in advance about what your reply will be as that is also a distraction to your listening skills.
  • If you are starting out an important conversation with someone, it is acceptable to ask them to listen carefully to what you are saying.  If you are in a management conversation with an employee, take the time to put these important words in writing as well.  Asking the parties to sign the words on paper to verify receipt is a typical and important ritual during a review.
  • To be a good listener, you must be in the present mind, focused on the other person, and considerate of giving someone else your complete attention.  Being a good listener is an art.


Rita Santamaria is the owner and CEO of Champions School of Real Estate, which was founded in 1983 and is a five time Pinnacle Award Winning School.  The Champions School of Business Etiquette division was founded in 2012 and has grown in a short time to be a leading development venue for individuals and companies.  For more information, visit their websites at or


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