You will get far in life if you are a good listener. That is a piece of advice we are given often. But those of us who are attentive to things will confess that it is not easy being a good listener. Actually, being a good listener is one of the hardest things in this world. The matter is made even more challenging by the fact that you not only have to be a good listener, but also to come across as a good listener. The bit about being seen as a good listener is the harder bit.
All said and done, the first thing you need to do, if you want to become a good listener, is to really pay attention to the person you are listening to, and stop your mind from always being in the mode of preparing a response. This is something that requires a lot of poise and confidence. Unfortunately for many of us, we are always anxious about appearing to be intelligent or appearing to be well informed. For that reason, we are always preparing responses, which makes us fail to pay attention to what is actually being said. The whole thing is actually self-defeating: for when you fail to pay attention to what is actually being said, you end up being unable to craft truly appropriate responses.
Another thing you need to do, if you want to become a good listener, is to be always pausing before replying. If you have been really paying attention, and not preparing a response, then this pause will occur to you naturally. Pausing helps you in any event, because it keeps you from blurting out responses that you are likely to regret. You have to remember that in most cases, the first thing that occurs for you to say is not always the best thing to say: hence the need for you to pause and reconsider, before speaking.
In being a good listener, you need to pay attention to both what is said and what is implied. This is a delicate balancing act, especially given the fact that what is implied is often weightier than what is said. Yet in trying to decipher what is implied, you run the risk of starting to think too deeply while the other person is speaking – thus distracting your attention from what is being said, and coming across as an inattentive person. But the good thing here is this: the moment you instruct your mind to pay attention to what is being implied, the mind seems to be capable of deciphering the same for you without need for your conscious attention.