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Health and wellbeing: 10 habits of highly effective listening

Health and wellbeing: 10 habits of highly effective listening

By Converge International

Health Wellbeing 


Lawyers need to know how to listen – not only is it an essential professional skill it is valuable for all relationships.

  1. Active listening is a very effective first response when the other person is angry, hurt or expressing difficult feelings, especially in relationships that are important to you. 

  2. It is important to paraphrase and use your own words in verbalising your understanding of the message. Parroting back the words verbatim is annoying and does not ensure accurate understanding of the message. 

  3. Depending on the purpose of the interaction and your understanding of what is relevant, you could reflect back the other person’s: 
  • account of the facts 
  • thoughts and beliefs 
  • feelings and emotions 
  • wants, needs or motivation 
  • hopes and expectations. 
  1. Don’t respond to just the meaning of the words, look for the feelings or intent beyond the words. The dictionary or surface meaning of the words used is not the message. 

  2. Inhibit your impulse to immediately answer questions. The code may be in the form of a question. Sometimes people ask questions when they really want to express themselves and are not open to hearing an answer. 

  3. Know when to quit using active listening. Once you accurately understand the sender’s message, it may be appropriate to respond with your own message. Don’t use active listening to hide and avoid revealing your own position. 

  4. If you are confused and know you do not understand, either tell the person you don’t understand and ask them to say it another way, or use your best guess. If you are incorrect, the person will realise it and will likely attempt to correct your misunderstanding. Don’t pretend it makes sense if it doesn’t. 

  5. Use eye contact and listening body language. Avoid looking at your watch or at other people or activities around the room. Face and lean towards the speaker and nod your head as appropriate. Be careful about crossing your arms and appearing closed or critical. 

  6. Be empathic and non-judgmental. You can be accepting and respectful of the person and their feelings and beliefs without invalidating or giving up your own position, or without agreeing with the accuracy and validity of their view. 

  7. Listen for the unsaid. It is often in the silence or the absence of information that the real message is being communicated. Listen beyond the words being spoken.


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