#177: Signs of Powerful Listening in English (and Why It’s Important)
Listening — really listening — to others is a powerful, generous gift. It’s the gift of your time and attention.
Even better, actively listening can also benefit you and make conversations easier.
At Speak Confident English, we are ALL about helping you speak with confidence.
In our online courses, like Fluency School, we also help our students develop powerful listening skills because good communication is a two-way street.
In this lesson today, you’ll learn:
- How powerful listening can benefit you.
- How can you know when English speakers are listening to you? What signals do they use?
- What signals can you use to show you’re listening?
- What to say when you realize someone isn’t listening to you (but they should be).
Powerful Listening Skills in English
Part 1: What are the benefits of powerful listening skills in English?
Active listening is a powerful gift — this gift of giving your attention to someone else.
And, even better, listening well can benefit you in your English conversations. Here’s how:
Active Listening Builds Trust and Respect
- Create friendships and business relationships
- Interact with team members and customers/clients in a more meaningful way
- Have empathy and understand others
Active Listening Shows Interest in Others
- Conversations are more open and engaging
- Helps you to be more interesting in English conversations
Understand People and What They Really Want
- Have fewer disagreements and misunderstandings
- Reach agreements more easily
- Make better decisions
- Handle customer complaints more easily
Part 2: How Do English Speakers Show They Are Listening to You?
There are typically 3 ways we can show we’re listening:
Body Language and Facial Expressions
- Eye contact
- Nodding head
- Shaking head
- Lean forward
Clarify and Confirm What Is Heard
- If I understood correctly, you said ______.
- You mentioned that __________.
- What I hear you saying is _______.
- Tell me more about ______.
Part 3: What Signals Can You Use to Show Active Listening in English Conversations?
Choose language and examples from this lesson and use them in your English conversations.
Listen to interviews and conversations with English speakers where you live. Can you identify the verbal cues they use to show they are listening?
Make a note of those examples and use them in your own conversations.
Choose an English speaker you admire. Find interviews with that speaker and identify ways she/he signals listening.
Again, make a note of those examples and begin to use them in your English conversations.
Part 4: What Can You Say When Someone Isn’t Listening?
Acknowledge and Show Concern
- It looks like I’ve lost you. Is there another time we should talk about this so you can be fully present?
- If someone’s phone keeps ringing or buzzing you could say, “Do you need to get that?” If they don’t, you could ask: Would you mind turning it off while we talk?
- I’d like your undivided attention so we can make a good decision on this.
- I’d like your undivided attention because this is important to our relationship/our financial future/the bottom line of this company/your job/etc.
For more, visit this lesson on How to Be Assertive in English.
Use Unexpected Silence or Surprising Words
- Stop talking. The silence will catch your listener’s attention.
- Say something weird like, “And then the elephant started laughing.” Again, the surprising words will capture attention.
I’d love to hear what powerful listening means to you.
1. What signals are used in your native language to show respect when listening?
2. Is there anything that surprised you or was new for you in this lesson? If so, what was it and how can you use this information to help you in future English conversations?
Tell me all about it. As always, you can share your comments and questions with me below.
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Hi Anne Marie, I am new here though I have been following you for months. I have great problem to listen to people. I always stop people before s/he finish and start myself. Even it became really uncontrollable! I want to listen people but since I became mom and talk to my kids, listening habits worsen!!! I want to get rid of my problem!!! Please help. How can I practice in class to listen people? Is there any particular class only for conversation where most of the time I would listen to the opposite even I have chance to talk.… Read more »
Dear Anne Marie. In portuguese, in Brasil, we use almost the same words and expressions you have shared with us. I think you ‘ve covered the subject in an universal way. Thank you so much. There may be a few varations from country to contry. Here it is comon people say like this: ok, yes, rygth, you are right, you have a point, very interesting, oh I didn’t know that. Is that true? Cool ! I couldn’ say it better. I totally agree. and so on. I loved your class especially when you taught about what to do when the… Read more »
Hi Mary. It’s great to know that you use the same expressions in Brazil. It’s interesting to find some similarities in other cultures and differences as well. We’re excited to hear that you found this lesson useful to you!
Among so many English teaching channels, you are one of the best that I came across. Your content is valuable and speaking style is helpful. I am learning a lot from you. Really grateful.Thank you. Keep up the great work!
I am Hanse from SriLanka, currently working in NewZealand.
Hi Hanse. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. We’re thrilled to know Annemarie’s lessons are helpful for you!
I love how the Americans express their listening.It looks like you are a such interesting person!😊I am from Ukraine.We use active listening with eyes contact and face expressions, but fewer werbal cues,I think.I know that my familiar people would be happy to hear these nosy signals while tolking.Thank you for great video.
Hi Anna. Thank you for your comment. We’re glad you enjoyed the lesson. And you’re right that different cultures have different modes and patterns of communication that influence listening. And sometimes, it creates barriers to effective communication.
In my native country we don’t show or do cues. If someone is talking and you do the cues that you gave us as native Americans do in a conversation shows they are interested for my country is considered as interruptions and being disrespectful during conversation .
Hi Ana, thanks for sharing. This is what makes learning language and culture is interesting and important. It’s so helpful to know HOW to be respectful when we travel and speak to others.
In the United States, if someone is silent when I’m speaking it makes me think they are not listening to me. 😊 If they are silent, I will stop speaking and say, “Are you listening?”
I need the noise. 🤣
What is your country? Im curious, because in an informal conversation it is a universal behavior to show we are paying attention.
I am Brazilian and in our native language we use exactly the same verbal cues, body language and facial expressions as Americans do.
Wow! I didn’t know we had so many similarities in listening. Thanks for sharing, Marcos.
Hi Annemarie & Team SCE, Customer service representative really needs to listen and adopt this traits in order for us to gain thier trust and provide excellent resolution in every calls and in our daily lives. For the questions: 1. In our native language, we used to be silent so the speaker will not be distracted, but in face to face we lean closer and lend our ears to show that we focus in listening. 2. The new for me in this lesson, was to say something weird just to catch their attention back to me. I usually do stop… Read more »
Thanks so much for sharing your comments and I’m thrilled that this lesson was useful. You’re absolutely right that customer service reps need to be excellent listeners in order to successfully resolve and keep customers. 😊
I’m listening to someone speaking English for the first time this kind of attentive. I understood seventy percent of what I heard. Thanks so much Annemarie.
Hi Kerem. Thank you for your comment. That’s great that you can understand that much when you’re listening to someone. It definitely helps you to communicate with people in a more meaningful way. We’re glad that this lesson was helpful to you, and we wish you much success in your English learning.