Are You a Mindful Listener?

Here's the thing about the "art of conversation": It goes both ways.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” — Ernest Hemingway

Do you consider yourself a good listener, or are you someone who prefers to talk and have others listen to you?

Some people are just natural born talkers, and others not, and if the tables were turned on the person who likes to gab, and they were forced to listen instead of talk, they might not be as comfortable listening as they are talking. The reason for that is they like to take front stage when it comes to having a conversation, which is why they do it. Have you ever heard the saying “Enough about me, let’s talk about myself?” That was meant for the over zealous conversationalist.

But here’s the thing about the “art of conversation”: It goes both ways, meaning two people should share in the conversation equally, and if you’re someone who prefers being in the “dominant” position when it comes to conversing by doing most of the talking, then you’re not a mindful listener, just a good talker.

It’s easy to assume that our personality type has a lot to do with how we behave, which for the most part I believe is true, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn to be better at something that doesn’t come naturally for us, like being a better listener.

Here are some ways to share the conversation more graciously, and not hog the spotlight as much:

1. Start the conversation by asking about the other person before you start talking about yourself.
2. Really listen to what they’re saying instead of jumping ahead in your mind to what you want to say.
3. Ask them questions, and not rote ones, but ones that show you’re really interested in them and what they have to say.
4.If you feel you can add to what they’re saying in a helpful way, share your thoughts, but don’t take over the conversation.
5. If you can tell that what they’re sharing is sensitive or emotional for them, you can touch their hand or arm affectionately, showing them you understand. This will make them feel more comfortable opening up.
6. If they turn the conversation onto you, ask them if there’s anything else they want to talk about. If they say “no,” it’s your turn to talk about yourself.
7. You can show your appreciation for what the other person shared with you by telling them you enjoyed it, and if it was personal information, thank them for trusting you, and assure them that you will keep it confidential.

After the conversation is over, take a few seconds to feel what it was like to be the listener. Acknowledge silently that you allowed yourself to be comfortable with this role, which might be new for you.

To be a mindful listener you need to truly listen, and what that means is maybe talk a little less. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to speak what’s on your mind, but by being a better listener, it will actually make you a more thoughtful speaker, taking the “art of conversation” to a whole new level.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...


    Listen & Speak

    by Lori McNeil

    You Can Become a Good Listener — and You Should

    by Heidi Dulebohn
    Impact Photography / Shutterstock

    To Build Better Relationships, Learn to Become an Active Listener

    by Thomas Oppong

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.