“People don’t respond to what you say or do; people respond to how you make them FEEL. And one of the best ways to make someone FEEL CONNECTED with you is to make them feel understood and listened to.” – Ed Mylett

Being a good listener can help you in every aspect of your life — with friends and family to colleagues and clients at work. For a number of reasons, though, listening has become a lost art, and chances are, you’ve been on both sides of distracted listening…checking your phone or email…multitasking…thinking about the next thing on your to-do list…interrupting with your own thoughts or thinking about your response while someone else is talking…and the list goes on.

The reality is that being a good listener, although overlooked, is SO important to influencing and connecting with others, and it’s an absolute necessity to build in every area of your life. After all, you have two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason. Here are 17 steps to up your listening game, a key to unlocking both your personal potential and the potential of your relationships.

  • Don’t try to solve people’s problems right out of the gate.
  • Repeat what someone else is telling you to: 1. Make sure you’re understanding; and 2. Reassure the person that you’re listening.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Check your body language and match it with the emotion of the conversation and the other person talking.
  • Do NOT interrupt the other person when they’re talking — don’t jump in to finish their thought.
  • Don’t use “nudging” words like “uh-huh”.
  • Don’t finish people’s sentences, don’t talk over them and don’t give them words.
  • Give acknowledging statements after someone is done talking.
  • Where appropriate, use physical touch to anchor in the emotion.
  • Use appropriate follow-up questions instead of jumping from one question to another one that’s completely irrelevant.
  • Ask questions of understanding to deepen the conversation.
  • Don’t project forward what you think the other person is going to say and don’t stop paying attention so you don’t forget the point you think is more important.
  • Don’t multitask and don’t check your email or phone.
  • Focus on the present — not your upcoming schedule.
  • Be in the moment and try to meet the other person where they are.
  • Use words and phrases that the other person seems to be using repeatedly.
  • Try to match and mirror the other person’s pace, tone, volume and body language.

Practice your listening skills. People will like you more. You will learn more. And it takes pressure off you.