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How can I Improve my listening skills?

Your mentoring relationship will thrive when you actively listen, ask effective questions, give or get feedback, and recognize contributions. 

Mentoring involves key skills like active listening, using a range of questions, challenges, and support.

Common challenges and barriers to becoming a good listener:

  • Viewing a topic as uninteresting
  • Criticizing a mentee’s appearance or her/his communication style (verbal cues, nonverbal cues, or both) rather than responding to her/his message
  • Becoming “overstimulated” by something the mentee says, such that we begin thinking of our own rebuttals and fail to hear the rest of what the mentee has to say
  • Listening only for facts and not paying attention to the body language
  • Tolerating, creating, or failing to adjust to distractions
  • Faking attention
  • Listening only to what is easy to understand
  • Allowing emotion-laden words to interfere with listening (e.g, preferred group designations; racist, sexist, or homophobic language)
  • Permitting personal prejudice or deep-seated convictions to impair comprehension
  • Wasting the advantages of the differential between speech rate and thought-processing speed
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