How to Improve Your Listening Skills | Suppachok Nitsoonkit, PhD | Skillshare

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How to Improve Your Listening Skills

teacher avatar Suppachok Nitsoonkit, PhD

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      How to Detect Yourself as a Good or Bad Listener


    • 3.

      Listen with Understanding the Big Picture


    • 4.

      Listen with Capturing in Details


    • 5.

      Listen and Evaluate Content


    • 6.

      Listen with Reading Non-Verbal Language


    • 7.

      Listen with Compassion


    • 8.

      Solution for Listening to an Annoying Speaker


    • 9.

      How to Set the Stage for High-Stakes Conversations


    • 10.

      How to Let Them Know You have Heard Them


    • 11.

      Keep Practicing Your Listening Skills


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About This Class

Good listening skills can be practiced by everyone.

Learning objectives:

  • Define common challenges to listening.
  • Define main types of listening intentions.
  • Improve the mindset of listening.
  • Prepare to keep yourself from interrupting.
  • Prepare how to let someone know you've heard their speak.


Meet Your Teacher

Suppachok believes in better educating people and is passionate about helping them broaden their knowledge in business, management, technology, civil engineering, and related skills.

He holds a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Systems and Network Management, and a PhD in Public Policy and Management.

Given the diverse cultures of the business world, learners may continue to adapt and apply knowledge to suit their own geographic or virtual environment.

See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Good listening skills are in possession of a special unattainable gift. Instead, these are skills that you can learn. This class provides guidance to assess your current listening skills, understand the challenges to effective listening, and develop various behaviors that will allow you to become a better listener and a better coworker. Mentor and friend. Learning objectives will consist of the following goals. Define common challenges to listening and related situations. Define main types of listening intentions. Improve the mindset of listening. Prepare to keep yourself from interrupting. Prepare how to let someone know you heard there speak from the experience that I have worked with colleagues in various professions and accumulated those experiences continuously. Therefore, I would like to pass on those experiences to everyone to try and change the way of listening in order to be beneficial to work and friendship will be improved immediately. 2. How to Detect Yourself as a Good or Bad Listener: By yourself. How can you tell when you are not listening to someone? It is actually a little tricky because since your mind is somewhere else, you are not paying attention to where it should be that is listening to the person talking to you. You need to learn to monitor yourself and become conscious of this. Then you can stop before you seriously offend someone. Here is an inventory of habit science to watch out for. If you catch yourself doing any of these pre pause and quick redirect yourself first is interrupting. When you see yourself cutting the other person off, stop. You are not giving them enough conversational space, you have to let them finish second, steering the conversation in another direction. This habit happens all the time organically, and it is not a problem if you are chatting with a friend. Something they might say reminds you of something else and off you go. But especially if the other person is trying to talk to you about something they feel is very important, they are going to be upset and feel not hurt. If you are commandeering the discussion and ignoring what they are trying to say, debating them before they can finish their point. Healthy debate can be fine and even a good thing sometimes. But it is not a debate. It is actually not even a fair fight. If you do not let them say what they need to, you are not running an Internet news talk show. Do not act like it. Instead, even if you have to restrain yourself, wait until they are done before responding. Fourth, playing with electronic devices. If you find yourself doing this, it is a very bad sign because the other person is noticing to create a policy to keep your cell phone in your back, or at least face down on the table when you are trying to have a conversation with someone, both you and speaker do not need flashing lights and buses between interacting conversations. Fifth, are you asking them to repeat things frequently? It is one thing. If you are in a noisy environment, you just cannot hear. What if it is quiet and you have to ask them to say something again? It is probably because your mind is wandering by the time someone says to you, are you listening? Or even worse, you are not listening. It is too late. They are really deep hurt or offended because they were trying to convey something and you did not show interest. Do not let it get that too far. By watching yourself and monitoring these signs, you can stop yourself and get your trust back in the business and relationship. 3. Listen with Understanding the Big Picture: Sometimes you are in situations where the details are actually a real distraction. If you get bogged down in the details, you may find that you actually missed the more universal truth on the broader scope that was being communicated. Assume you are sitting in a meeting when a branding consultant presented his recommendation for how a start up company should brand itself with the customers. The questions at the end of his presentation demonstrated who had been listening for big picture. Those people were asking important questions about strategy for implementation. They asked about the research conducted to reach the recommendation and they probed for a deeper understanding of the general direction. On the other hand, there were some people who asked the specific date brand would be rolled out, which had not been decided yet. And they asked about specific wording and specific visuals which had not been decided yet. This went on for a little while and you could tell that they were frustrated listeners, but they were also frustrating to the presenter and others in the room who knew. This was not the time yet for focusing on or worrying about the details. The details would be important, of course, but not yet. Now it was more important to focus on the overall vision, the mission, the big picture. Have you noticed people who can sit through a really long meeting and are then able to synthesize the core ideas into one or two concise sentences. As a review, that is a person who can listen for and understand the big picture. Here are a few helpful tips. Ask yourself, how would this information have an impact three years from now? And how would you explain this to someone outside the organization on this relationship? When you can clearly and concisely explain an idea to someone who is not even familiar with the information, you have probably figured out the big picture. In addition to asking yourself these key questions, you can practice understanding the big picture by attending a lecture and describing afterward the key ideas presented. If you had more than three to four main ideas, you have probably been too focused on details. This is a listening skill well worth improving if it is not one of your current strengths. 4. Listen with Capturing in Details: For listening skill in recalling the details is your ability to listen for and retain specific points made and direct intent by a speaker. This type of listening is what you need to do when your boss gives you instructions on the complicated multi step task that you are expected to do and report back. You need to listen for details. When people are sharing debts that require you to act frequently, really talented people hurt their own professionalism and credibility because they let little things sit through the cracks and then end up inadvertently letting people down. When someone stops speaking to you, assess you. Listening for the details is the right kind of listening for you. At this point, ask yourself, I need to take action on this information either now or later. What information do I need to remember in order to take that action? Asking this important questions to help you decide what kind of listening focus you should have. If you do not need to act on the information, let's say your friend or colleague is just wanting to share something with you. Then understanding the big picture or listening with compassion or empathy will be a more appropriate and effective listening focus. If however, you frequently find yourself in situations where recalling detail is important, then try to practice strategies to wrap up this skill. Listen to the forecast without watching. And then see if you can recall daily temperatures for the week. Keep trying until you see improvement in your recall. Take notes next time someone give you instructions on how to do a specific task. And then test yourself by reading the notes back to the speaker and see if you caught it. Just try following your own notes and see if you can accomplish the task. Recalling the details can save you for your value, time, effort, and possible embarrassment. 5. Listen and Evaluate Content: Some of the listening you do every day is critical or evaluative listening. This type of listening comes into play when you have to form an opinion. After gathering and information, I need to decide between two positions on what you have to assess, strengths and weaknesses of proposal. This type of listening happens often in the workplace and at the negotiates place in the dynamic business world. This type of critical listening is fully essential in the viability of the organization and sustainability for future growth. If you are not listening critically where the information you have in front of your decisions you make can be flawed, Assume you are sitting in a presentation where two different consulting firms were presenting company executives with two different guidance and directions for their international growth. Both were very well prepared, but one of the two firms had answers to all the questions they had anticipated, what the listeners would want to know. They offered additional pieces of evidence for their argument and they ended up presenting a lot more content for the executives. This additional quality care, those consulting firm, a content advantage which resulted in them gaining the trust and winning the project. When you listen to evaluate content, put yourself in top listening. More priority did you are a virtual earner, free to sketch down, take notes, force yourself to listen to the information presented and pray the both advocate. No matter your listening style, ask yourself for these questions. Is the speaker making a viable argument? Is the evidence he or she is presenting reason credible and relevant to the topic? Are both the pros and cons details presented? Is any of the information misleading you from the original objective? What you can call fallacies in the argumentation. If this was a product or a service, would you buy, pay for it? One very big caution for critical or evaluative listening is not to get distracted by the delivery of the speaker or any other external factors. Sample evaluative missoning. Training ground is news or sports commentaries. In both cases, newscasters present the facts and then in the commentary section, they present the analysis of the situation. Listen to each of the arguments, claims, evidences, and reasoning presented at the end of the news or sports show. Decide if the opinion presented is also your opinion or if you would present any counter arguments or different viewpoints that were not present. Reasoning to evaluate content takes discipline and focus on content. Only allow yourself enough time to compare contrast, and decide on the quality of what is presented to you. 6. Listen with Reading Non-Verbal Language: Can you hear or imagine the body language on the phone? Can you figure out who came to the yearly party with whom after you have spent some time at the venue? These are the types of questions I will ask you to find out if you were attending to non verbals, language or subtle cues. Being attuned to non verbals language or subtle cues is all about reading nonverbal signals that are vital in discovery and conveying meaning. In many cultures, direct verbal communication is not the norm. Even in the United States, you know that it is not. Everything is communicated direct, verbally. And many things are left unsaid as silence. And listeners must read between the remaining lines. Being attuned to non verbal language or subtle cues allows you to read between the lines and gather additional meaning. By reading the non verbal language or subtle cues prepares you for stellar listening. You may be hearing someone communicate a message, but if the cues you received do not match up, you need to adjust your response. For example, you ask your friend for his or her opinion on a project and he or she tells you that he or she agrees. But the conversation looks a little bit like this. She says yes, but he or she does not directly look at you and his or her poster communicate something totally different. Some non verbal cues are very subtle and tough to clearly decipher. As soon you were the afternoon speaker for an organization having the annual offsite, you plan to spend the day with the group and you were invited to attend the morning session. All but the first one. See, the first session involved company, sensitive information that you were not privy to. The administrator you work with ask you had enjoyed the coffee in the morning and gestured to the table outside of the room, asking that you have another cup. Dy otsarted Can you imagine how awkward it would have been if you said, I would love another cup and I can just drink it in the back of the conference room. Gladly, you were sharp enough to get the message and not invite yourself in the conference room. The anthropologist spend years observing many people and documenting their non verbals. In an inaudural academic book, The Silent Language, as outlines the theory of explicit versus informal nonverbal forms of communication. Being able to read non verbal language, our subtle cues is an essential listening skill. If you are not that well versed in the skill, do what the book said. Watch people. You may need a communication interpreter. Someone who knows the context, the people, the situation on the culture time. Debriefing with them as part of your skill building in the non verbal language or subtle cue. Reading division de reading non verbal language or subtle cues is not your storm suit. I encourage you to either watch people converse in another language or watch series shows, drama series on the best for this exercise and try to figure out the story plot. Another day to day activity you can practice is walking into a meeting where you do not know the members and their positions and trying to figure out who is whose boss. As I mentioned earlier, non verbal language or subtle cues can sometimes be very tricky. So do not be afraid to seek help and enlist a non verbal interpreter. 7. Listen with Compassion: Listening with compassion or empathy takes time and energy, but it is well worth it as it builds the relationship between you and the speaker. When you watch a compassionate or an empathetic listener, you see them mirroring the emotion and even body language of the speaker. They usually are laser focused on the speaker and they seem to not care about anything else that is happening. In the pres of listening, compassionate or empathetic listeners pour themselves into the listening experience so that they can better understand the speaker's emotions and their feelings. Since we talked about other details earlier, a listener in the compassionate or an empathetic situation listens and paraphrases both emotion and content. This is a type of listening that has the potential to build a strong trust and respect among both parties. Compassionate or empathetic listening is important when you deal with conflict situations, among members of your teams, with staff who report to you, or just listening to a colleague who is distraught by an issue, expand past the immediate circle of professional colleagues to the realm of customers. If you listen with compassion or empathy and you show deep understanding for a challenging situation, then you can refuse emotion or even calm a frustrated speaker or customer. Compassion or empathy starts with the language that is going on in your head as the listener. While you listen, put yourself in that person's shoes and identify with his or her feelings. Tell yourself to completely immerse in the listening experience without judging or becoming distracted. Find your non verbal language. Try to be a full mirror to the speaker. And if you speak, use acknowledging responses such as, I see how if you do verbally participate in the conversation, you sentence them, such as, tell me more about that. I can see why you feel so upset about this. Is that the first time this happened? Or I would be frustrated too. What happened next? As you listen, remember to honor the speaker's feelings and do not use any phrases that would discount them, such as, that is not that bad. Do not get so upset over this, it is all going to be fined shortly. Compassionate, empathetic listening can be emotionally braining. If you are not well versed in it, practicing often and improve your skills. And my suggestion is that you do it in situations that are not too emotionally draining to you. For example, listen to a baseball parent complaining about his or her son's coach, not yours. Listen to a young adult talk about the drama created in his or her circle of friends. Or a neighbor talked about his or her situation at work. Listening with compassion or empathy will set you apart in the workplace and your personal life. Identify when it is necessary and put your skills and action if you want to be an overall better communicator. 8. Solution for Listening to an Annoying Speaker: Sometimes main reason why it can be hard to listen, let's be true honest, is that you are listening to someone who is very annoying. It can be really difficult to summon the patients and grace you need, but there are some hopes and techniques to apply and keep in mind if the person is really boring, it is often because the speaker is passionate about a subject. You are not interested in those areas. If that is the case, you can try to switch the conversation slightly so you can connect and understand with that passion, ask the speaker, how did they get interested in those specific subjects? And what makes the speaker love those field of expertise? That will probably be more interesting than an in depth discussion of its particular details. The speaker is repetitive, it may be because they don't believe you heard them speak in the first time. You can often get the speaker to stop repetitive speaking by restating their point and letting them know you heard the message and telling them the real action plan. Mostly the speaker might be annoying because they are angry. If that is the exact case, look at the situation and determine did you do something wrong in any reason that you must need to apologize for. If that is the case, apologize because it is the right thing to do. Apologizing is often all that is needed to get the speaker to stop exploding with a loud noise. But if you are not at fault in any ankles, and therefore it is not appropriate to apologize, think about what the speaker really need. They probably want to make sure you understand the problem and why they are frustrated about it, and that you are going to take strong action to help them. If you can restate the situation, express empathy that they are having to go through it, and let them know what the plan is to remedy it. That will often end things. Finally, the speaker may be annoying because they have an opinion and a world view that just seems strange and crazy to you. Why would they think and speak out something as strange and crazy as that? Well, maybe they probably have their reasons and it is a good place to put your newly n listening skills to the ultimate test. They probably have what seems to them and may in fact be a really good reason. It, in your view, to listen and discover, instead of just being annoyed. It is pretty easy to listen to fascinating people who are clever and in depth engaging. And it is a lot harder and pretty tough when you are feeling annoyed. If you can listen to and interact well with the speaker that you feel might be a little boring or a little annoying. It's means that you are now succeed in mastering and improving listening skill to the new level. 9. How to Set the Stage for High-Stakes Conversations: Code listening skills are useful all the time, but they're critical when you're about to have a high stakes conversation. Here's how to lay the groundwork for it to go well. It starts with identifying the right time to talk about something. If something is important, don't try to handle it in the middle of the hallway on the fly. Instead, schedule a time so the other person is ready. Make sure you're aware of the other person's contexts at that time too. If they're facing a huge deadline, it might not be the best moment. Next, make sure you have the location right. Depending on the type of conversation, you might want a quiet private room, or if it's a topic where they might be nervous, you might consider a walking meeting or some other way. You can be focused, but not always looking at each other. You want to be maximally focused for this conversation. So make sure you are ready physically, take enough rest the night before and eat beforehand so you're not distracted by being hungry or tired. Listening will take energy and effort and you want to make sure you have some to spare. Finally, depending on the type of conversation, you might want to have multiple people present who are all listening for instance. This might be appropriate if you're doing a negotiation that way you can compare your notes with your colleagues afterwards to see if you have the same impressions and ensure one of you didn't miss something. Hearing others perspective is a good way to test yourself as a listener and make sure you're focusing on what's most important high stakes conversations at the moment. When your efforts to improve your listening skills can really pay off by following these steps, you can ensure your meeting calls as well as possible. 10. How to Let Them Know You have Heard Them: Improving your listening skills has tangible results, you have access to better and more accurate information, and that leads to better decisions. But it's not just about the facts. There's another benefit, and that's connecting with people more effectively because you make them feel hurt. Here's how to do that specifically. First, it's malldating for people when they hear you restating what they've expressed. Now to be clear, it's really a good idea to just recite back the exact words because that requires only the most basic listening. Instead, it's your job to take in what they say, assimilate it, and then restate it in your own words to show you really do get what they mean and that you get the impact of it. Second, pay attention to the words they use and don't traumatize them. This might sound contradictory, after all, I just said don't recite their own words back to them. So you need to put your own spin on it, right? But there's a distinction, especially if we're feeling criticized, it's easy to take people's language to the extreme in order to defend ourselves against it. Maybe someone said you were careless on the core project, and you say, and you said, I was really reckless. That's not restating something in your own language. You're not listening. If you make a maneuver like that, you're actually exaggerating what they're saying and being defensive. So be on guard for that. Another way to let others know that you heard them, means to ask and to expand on their points. Remember to use why and have questions like, why is that? How did that make you feel a willingness to go deeper, to get at the reason behind? Something is a demonstration of empathy that others will notice and appreciate. It also helps you understand the situation better so you can take action in a more informed way. Finally, some situations may not have solutions or at least easy ones, but it's often a show of respect to ask the person you're listening to what their ideas or possible solutions are. If they come to you because they've been struggling with a conflict with a colleague, for instance, they may indeed have some ideas. You don't always have to be the smart one. Taking the time to ask and uneart some possibilities that may be on point and something you never would have considered. Improving your listening skills pays the biggest dividend when it comes to your interpersonal relationships. Making people feel herd is key, and by following these steps, you can do it. 11. Keep Practicing Your Listening Skills: Listening is an invisible scale. It's not flashy. It doesn't announce itself. But it can be your secret weapon. Who wouldn't want to access better and more accurate information? And the chance to connect with your colleagues in a deeper level? Yet, too often we allow ourselves to get derailed. We get busy, we get distracted. We check our devices out. Don't let that happen to you for the next few weeks. Try something simple. Focus on one behavior at a time. You can change, may be working on not interrupting people, or keeping your devices in your back or your coat pocket. Meanwhile, observe your conversations going. Do you notice a difference? How is the other person relating to you? Over time, you can add in more behaviors to try out and keep the experimental mindset, see what works for you and what doesn't and modify accordingly. Becoming a better listener doesn't happen overnight. But taking the time to practice and invest in building this skill can be enormously powerful for your personal growth and your professional success.