5 Easy Ways to Become a Better Listener

A study in Business Communications: Strategies and Skills reports that the average person retains only about 25% of what they hear. Ask yourself: How often are you truly listening when you're in a conversation? As humans, our minds are constantly absorbed by our own thoughts, and this can significantly impact how well we listen. Listening is something we've been conditioned to do our whole lives—but there are levels of it. Listening is a conscious act that we must decide to do. Listening without judgment, assumptions, and distractions is a choice. 

"Our brains are designed for social interaction, and we derive some of our greatest joy and life lessons from our relationships," explains Jamie Price, wellness expert and co-founder of Stop, Breathe & Think, an emotional wellness app that recommends meditations and activities tuned to your emotions. "Being a really good listener is one of the keys to supporting great relationships of all kinds, and mindfulness can help. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention with openness, a sense of warmth and friendliness, and without judging. When you listen mindfully, you are fully present and able to take in what the other person is saying. You aren't formulating an opinion or judgment about what they are saying or distracted by your phone. You are simply giving the gift of your undivided attention."

We've all been in situations when we're hearing and not truly listening. It's okay. Michael P. Nichols, experienced therapist and author of The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships, explains how to become a better listener, which is surprisingly simple.