Are you a good listener, really?

By Helle Gjønnes Møller

Listening is a routine activity. Without even thinking about it, we do it intuitively all day, every day. We listen to gather information, we listen out of interest, we listen for pleasure. But sometimes, we also listen to support others. And in clinical encounters, this is something we shouldn’t trivialize.

Effective listening requires attentive practice

Effective listening helps to build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. In a clinical context, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time.

According to Dr. John Greer Clark, “Listening is a process in which we hear another person speak, we attend to that person's message, and we attempt to comprehend the full meaning of the statements expressed that may often be masked by the very words chosen." This process, says Clark, requires focused attention to what a person is communicating beyond our own preconceived understanding of what we hear. 

Test your own listening skills

So, what makes a good listener? A few weeks ago, we shared Julia T. Wood’s six steps to mindful listening. This week, we give you an opportunity to reflect on your own listening skills, as we share a listening test developed by Clark. 

Test your listening skills to see how well your ranking matches your own perceptions – and identify potential areas where there might be room for improvement. 

Note that the listening test developed by Clark is one possible assessment out of many available options. The Ida Institute does not adhere to one specific approach to listening, but generally encourages reflection in all aspects of clinical practice.