Shirley's Articles / Speaking with Confidence

How to Become A Better Listener

5 Cues To Understanding What Others Really Mean

When you are having a conversation, do you spend more time thinking about how to express yourself well – or how to listen well?

If you’re like most people, you don’t pay much attention to how you listen. Most of us just listen to get the gist of what the other person is saying or asking, and consequently, we don’t get the benefits from doing it well.

How Can Listening Make You More Successful?

If you devote yourself to really hearing, your career will benefit in two important ways:

  1. You’ll broaden your perspective and deepen your understanding of the world. With this wisdom, you’ll solve problems more effectively and make better decisions.
  2. You’ll be more likely to hear and mirror the other person’s language, sentiments and point of view. This will make them feel valued and understood. As a result, you’ll build the trust, respect and affection of those around you.

5 Cues To Understanding What Others Really Mean

It seems so simple. But really listening means devoting yourself to the subtle cues people use when they talk. It will help you to gain a deeper understanding of your counterpart if you listen for these 5 cues:

  1. Pauses: What caused them to pause? If they’ve stopped to think before or after saying something, what’s going through their mind?
  2. Emphasis: What do they place importance on? What words or ideas do they especially want you to hear?
  3. Mood: Is their mood in synch with their words? It may not be. They may say ‘Congratulations!’ while their tone reveals resentment.
  4. Rhythm: Do they suddenly change the pace of what they’re saying? You may notice they speed up or start stumbling when talking about something in particular.
  5. Breath: Our breathing is deeply connected to our emotions. Holding our breath, shallow breathing, sighing, and other irregularities are signals that something is of importance.

Listening for these subtle cues takes focus and energy. The next time someone is talking to you, try to avoid judgement and preparing your reply. Instead, see what it feels like to devote yourself entirely to simply listening and noticing. You should soon start feeling the benefits.

Article written by Marianna Pascal

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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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