Tuesday, November 5, 2019

5 Habits of Exceptionally Good Listeners from Nick Wignall

Great advice from Nick Wignall from PSILOVEYOU website on the 5 Habits of Exceptionally Good Listeners:

Here is his list, but please visit the link above to read the full article, it's worthwhile!

1. Focus on the person, not the problem  - Most of us are problem-solvers at heart
2. Ask open-ended questions - conversations are more than information exchange. They’re about connection.
3. Reflect back what you’re hearing - shows them that we care and that we’re listening carefully
4. Validate their emotions - acknowledge whatever it is they feel without shame or fear
5. Validate your own emotions - Nothing sabotages your ability to listen faster than defensiveness

I am as encouraged by the comments on this thread as I am the outstanding writing of Nick Wignall.
He also offers several sample open-ended questions and useful pro-tips.

Which habit is the one you are willing to work on this week and how?


  1. These are SO GOOD I wanted to capture them:
    Instead of: Why are you upset? Try: How are you feeling?
    Instead of: Was work stressful again? Try: How was work?
    Instead of: Did your mom criticize your gain? Try: What happened in the conversation with your mom?

    When in doubt, here are a few generic open-ended questions that work well in almost any scenario:
    What was that like for you?
    Can you tell me more about that?
    How did you feel about that?
    How are you feeling right now?
    What was going through your mind?
    Being a good listener is about the person sitting next to you, not information.

    Pro Tip: When asking questions, avoid beginning with Why and use What or How instead. Why tends to make people feel like they’re being questioned and judged whereas How and What feel more neutral and factual.

  2. The first one, focus on the person not the problem, is where I need to improve. My natural inclination is to cut to the chase and fix the problem. But letting/helping/witnessing the person resolve their own problem empowers them, I think.

    1. Thanks Dennis, while it's hard to do, it's true that listening and asking more questions can serve to empower the person. If they feel like they've exhausted their thinking and ideas, you THEN can ask, "would you like a suggestion from me?" If they say yes, then you've got an invitation on top of having fully listened.

  3. I'm going to practice reflecting back on what I'm hearing - and perhaps paraphrasing what they said. I think that practice will slow me down and help me focus on them and stop me from jumping in, fixing stuff, or from mentally wandering away. I will try this tonight! What a terrific nudge. Thanks, Tres!!

  4. Trying new things is the first step, then the hard part is, the practice....start to notice if the person keeps sharing, perhaps even pausing to say, "wow that's a great question, I hadn't even thought of that" This gift that you give to others can help them explore their own thinking. I promise that it will feel great if they ask you for advice or ideas on their own.