Do you talk too much? It’s an honest question? OK, let me rephrase the question… How would you rate your listening skills at work, home? How would someone else rate our listening skills? Listening is a HUGE component of effective communication.

Listening is an art that requires work, self-discipline, and skill. The art of communication springs as much from knowing when to listen as it does from knowing how to use words well. … Remain open to new ideas instead of impatiently waiting for a chance to butt in with what you think is the final word on the subject.

Let’s try something a bit different than you may be used to with these tips on becoming a better listener. Try to view listening as a series of don’ts as I’ve outlined below. 

1. Don’t Speak 
When you are trying to become a better listener, don’t speak while someone else is speaking. Let them completely say what they have to say and don’t interrupt them. It’s not only rude to interrupt; you won’t capture the meaning of what they are saying.

2. Don’t Wander
It’s easy for your mind to wander when others are speaking. But, try to resist. Give the person your undivided attention. They will not only appreciate it, but you will save yourself some time by not having to ask them to repeat what they said. Plus, it’s a simple courtesy. 

3. Don’t Think
Try not to think about what you are going to respond while the other person is speaking. This takes a bit of skill to refrain from doing. But, if you make an effort, you will find it becomes natural over time. Sometimes, repeating what is being said may help reinforce the message, as well as prevent you from thinking about what you are going to say.

4. Don’t React
People often have knee-jerk reactions when someone says something unexpected. Try to let it all sink in before reacting in any way. Make sure you understand what the person is saying and ask questions if you don’t. Then, after you have an understanding, you can react as you see fit.

5. Don’t Be Closed-Minded 
You will speak to plenty of people that don’t hold the same beliefs as you. There are reasons they feel the way they do. When listening, you should try to keep an open mind. You don’t have to agree with everything someone else is saying. But, you should at least respect the fact that others have differing opinions. If everyone thought in the same way, life would get pretty dull.

6. Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Learn
The people you are talking to are going to have information that you don’t. When you let them speak and open your mind, you may find that you can learn that information. And, you will learn it much quicker if you are open to what they say and listen. Approach your listening with that goal in mind, i.e., to learn something new. You never know what you are going to learn from someone else.

7. Don’t Miss Out on Building a Relationship
Listening builds relationships. When people find out you are a strong listener, they will approach you more often. They will also let others know that you listen well, thus expanding your network and relationships. The more people you have in your network, the more ability you have to connect and learn.