We tend to think that being a good listener means being a sponge that absorbs as much information as possible, but Harvard Business Review suggests that's not really the best analogy. Photo by Britt Reints.
After looking at data analysing a number of listening traits, researchers found that being a good listener is more about the type of feedback offered than it is just quietly listening:
While many of us have thought of being a good listener being like a sponge that accurately absorbs what the other person is saying, instead, what these findings show is that good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of — and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking. They make you feel better not merely passively absorbing, but by actively supporting. This lets you gain energy and height, just like someone jumping on a trampoline.
So, remember, if you want to be a better listener, be sure to actually pay attention and interact with the person talking to you.
What Great Listeners Actually Do [Harvard Business Review]