#177: Signs of Powerful Listening in English (and Why It’s Important)

Jun 10, 2020 | Business Professional English, How To Develop Skills

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

Video Summary:

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

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:

Verbal Cues

  • Umm-hmm
  • Mmm
  • Oh
  • Uh-huh
  • Yeah
  • Really
  • Wow
  • Interesting
  • Seriously

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?

Option 1: 

Choose language and examples from this lesson and use them in your English conversations.

Option 2:

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.

Option 3: 

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?

Be Assertive

  • 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.

Happy Listening,


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