The Art of Intentional Listening

Being able to actively listen is one thing, but having the ability to discern what the other person really wants is an art form. In today's competitive market, it is more important than ever to have a leg up on the competition. One way to make yourself stand out in an interview or network situation is to intentionally listen for what the other person wants or needs. If you are wondering how you can listen intentionally, then this article is for you.   

Most people listen to others through a filter. In fact, study after study has shown that people only listen effectively 25% of the time! People often only hear what they want to hear, and do not pay close enough attention to what is said, and more importantly, to what is not said. Imagine the last time you were having a conversation and your mind began to wander to what you had for breakfast or to the list of errands you had to run. People do not typically listen to what others have to say, rather, they are simply waiting for their turn to offer their opinion or ideas. The same is true for interviewing.

When you are in an interview, you are often wrapped up in trying to think of the next question the interviewer might ask you or perhaps how to convince them to hire you. Rarely do people listen for what the employer needs and how they can solve the employer's problem. If you can learn how to listen for the problems a company needs solved and then turn around and offer a solution, you will blow the competition away!

Below are 3 tips to help you become a more intentional listener:


1) Be present-Empty your mind and focus on what the other person is saying, rather then your next response. Be willing to focus all your attention on what the other person is saying. It can be draining to be present all of the time, but in the long run, it is worth it.


2) Think/Listen empathetically-Be sensitive to the other person's feelings and thoughts. Avoid using the word “but,” as it negates anything that was said prior. Focus on repeating back to the person what was said in a way that has the other person feel understood, such as “I can see why you would feel that way.”


3) Ask questions and offer insights-A great listener will want to make sure they understand the problem clearly. They will ask pertinent questions related to the conversation and will add ideas or insights to what the speaker has already said. This will give the speaker the experience of being heard.


Intentional listening takes hard work and focus. It can take an hour or a minute to hear what the other person is saying, that is up to you. If you take the time to work on your intentional listening skills, you will amazed at what you hear.

One thought on “The Art of Intentional Listening”

  1. Beautiful and important posting…! The art of listening in communication has been forgotten and you bring clear and simple reminders. Thank you…! Stephen Cover also reminded us 4 levels of listening: ignoring, pretending, selective listening, and empathic listening. I am learning other 4 focus of listening:content, tonality, care, and understanding.

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