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Davidson is a certified professional trainer, business coach and management consultant.

Driven by passion, he is an engaging and versatile presenter with over 20 years of experience in the training industry. Over the course of his career, he has trained over 1,000 companies comprising start-ups, SMEs, MNCs, government agencies and others all over Southeast Asia.

Below are Articles and posts I have written over the years and published on Various media.

Effective Communication: 5 Tips To Become A Better Listener

“Its not you, its me”, is probably the most textbook breakup line ever used. Anyone who’s done their share of dating has probably been on one side or the other of the It’s not you, it’s me routine. What we deemed as being a clear and concise reason for the breakup, where we are taking full accountability, only serves to leave our exes confused and puzzled over what went wrong.

Communication is a vital part of human connections and in building trust. There are many ways we communicate with each other and studies have shown that nonverbal communication accounts for 65% of derived meaning. The most common form of nonverbal cues comes from our body language, non-sound words like the tone we use, and our appearance.

In my book 8 Vital Skills to Succeed at the Workplace, I talked about these in greater depth and include some tips to ensure effective communication in some of these areas.

However, verbal communication is how we normally interact and thus, effective, clear verbal communication skills are also key in any setting.

Effective communication starts with a skill called effective listening. Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. Effective listening is a skill that underpins all positive human relationships.

Most of what we do or do not do (the way we act and respond to others) is based on our understanding of the messages that have been conveyed to us. In practical terms, misunderstanding can cost us time, money, credibility, and even relationships. Conversely, accurately received messages create comfort, confidence, and appreciation in the minds of our customers.

Being able to listen effectively also allows us to practise empathy and to be more socially aware.

There are five key active listening techniques you can use to help you become a more effective listener:

  1. Pay Attention

Give the speaker your undivided attention and acknowledge the message. Pay as much attention to the nonverbal communication cues as well as the verbal ones.

  • Maintain good eye contact.
  • Focus on what the speaker is saying.
  • Listen to understand, not answer.
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
  • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.
  • Put your phone on silent and put it away.
  1. Demonstrate that you are listening

Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are giving your undivided attention.

  • Nod occasionally.
  • Smile and use other positive facial expressions.
  • Have an open and interested posture.
  • Use encouraging small verbal comments like yes, and “uh huh.”
  1. Provide Feedback

Be aware of our own personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs that can distort what we hear. As a listener, to fully understand what is being said, may require us to reflect on and clarify what is being said.

  • We can reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is… ,” and “Sounds like you are saying… ,”.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say…?” “Is this what you mean?”
  • Summarize your understanding of the speaker’s comments periodically to check your understanding.
  1. Suspend Judgment

Interrupting can be frustrating to the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.

  • Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions. A good tip here is to allow a 5 to 10 second pause after the speaker has stopped speaking.
  • Refrain from interrupting with counter arguments.
  1. Respond Appropriately

Active listening is designed to encourage respect and understanding. The purpose is to gain information and perspective and to be supportive.

  • Be candid, open, and honest in your response.
  • If you need to assert your opinion, do it respectfully.
  • Practice empathy and treat the other person in a way that you think she would want to be treated.

Effective communication requires a conscious effort to improve and as with any such efforts, requires consistent practice. Another good way to hone your communication skills is to ask for feedback from the other party. We only understand things from our own individual perspectives and getting feedback from relevant people will help us widen that perspective.

Being able to communicate effectively is a valuable but can sometimes be an underrated skill. However, it is the underlying foundation of any successful relationship, in our personal lives and especially so in organizations. Ultimately, it could be the difference between success and failure.

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