To actively pay attention to and consider what others have to say.


Listening means knowing what others have said and meant to say and leaving people comfortable that they have been heard. What most people need to learn is how to listen when they don't want to. Listening doesn't mean that you accept what others say or even that you have accepted them. It just means truly listening to what people have to say.

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understandingProverbs 2:2

Skilled Characteristics

  • Active

    Practices attentive and active listening

  • Patience

    Has the patience to hear people out

  • Restates

    Can accurately restate the opinions of others even when in disagreement

  • Body Language

    Demonstrates attentiveness through body language – eye contact, good posture, hands not fidgeting, smiling, nodding or through other culturally relevant ways

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

– Stephen R. Covey

Unskilled Characteristics

  • Unfocused

    Does not listen well – loses focus easily

  • Cuts In

    Cuts people off and finishes their sentences if they pause or hesitate

  • Interrupts

    Interrupts to make a statement or offer a solution or decision

  • Not Open

    Does not learn much from interactions with others – only interested in being heard by others

  • Thinking

    Appears not to listen or is too busy thinking about one’s own response

  • Misunderstands

    Many times misses the point others are trying to make

  • Arrogant

    May appear arrogant, impatient or uninterested in what others have to say

  • Biased

    May value and thus listen to some groups/people but not to others

  • Inaccurate

    Is commonly inaccurate in restating what others have said

“Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”

– Larry King

Causes of Weakness

  • Arrogant

    Thinks too highly of oneself

  • Defensive

    Overly focused on protecting oneself from looking bad

  • Self-Focused

    Uninterested in the thoughts, ideas and feelings of others

  • Independent

    Does not sufficiently value the input and ideas of others

  • Impatient

    Not willing to take the time to truly listen to others before making a decision and taking action

  • Selective

    Believes that only certain people have relevant things to share

  • Busy

    Too busy to take time to listen to others

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Proverbs 12:15


Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.

  • Choose

    CHOOSE: Virtually all people are capable of listening. Usually the problem lies with choosing to listen in a given situation.

  • Be Quiet

    BE QUIET: Keep your mouth closed. Give appropriate eye contact. Take notes. Don’t frown or fidget. Periodically give verbal acknowledgements such as ‘yes’, or ‘ok’, or ‘uh ha’. Paraphrase what the person said and then ask if you understood correctly. Don’t interrupt.

  • Ask Questions

    ASK QUESTIONS: Ask probing questions to get more clarity. Ask clarifying questions. Ask confirming questions to ensure proper understanding.

  • Selective Listener?

    SELECTIVE LISTENER? Identify in what kind of situations you don’t listen well. Who don’t you listen to? Why not? Does it ever relate to the person’s age, gender, skills, personality, intelligence, education, experience, title, ethnicity, or a type of setting (like a loud environment), or the amount of time you have? Challenge yourself to practice listening to those you don’t usually listen to. Listen for content. Separate the content from the person. Try to expect possibly valuable input from everyone.

  • Receive

    RECEIVE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK: Shift your thinking to actually appreciate ALL feedback – and listen! Try to accurately understand what the person is trying to tell you. Your goal is not to accept or refute or even respond to what the person says. Just listen, ask questions, and paraphrase. And THANK people for their input, even when you don’t like it or you disagree with it.