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4 things all great listeners know

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It’s easy to tell when someone’s not paying attention, but it can be surprisingly tricky to know what good listening looks like. Good listening is one of the most important things we can do to improve our relationships, develop our worldview, and potentially change people’s minds. So what can we do to become better listeners? Dig into different strategies that can improve your listening skills.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Kelso Harper
  • Director Maryna Buchynska, and action creative agency
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Olga Barabakh
  • Animator Marginai Iryna Harkavets
  • Art Director Maryna Buchynska, Marginai Iryna Harkavets
  • Composer Salil Bhayani, cAMP Studio
  • Sound Designer Amanda P.H. Bennett, Chengqing Zhu, cAMP Studio
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Abdallah Ewis
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace
  • Expert Consultant Guy Itzchakov , Harry Reis
Additional Resources for you to Explore
According to the Chicago Center for Teaching and Learning, listening is a vitally important communication competence, ranking alongside speaking, writing, and reading. Listening engages complex cognitive, affective, and behavioral processes, all of which combine to make either an effective or ineffective listener. While ineffective listeners may simply nod along while formulating their own thoughts and waiting to speak, effective listeners are simultaneously interpreting messages, motivating themselves to remain attentive to the speaker, and responding with both verbal and nonverbal feedback. 
 
Effectively listening is often equated with active listening — or the practice of hearing the intended ideas of others with understanding. If you would like to improve your own active listening skills, Kwantlen Polytechnic University offers a helpful guide on its central tenets and how to apply them in conversation. Researchers suggest that these principles have the potential to impact every facet of life. Harry Reis and Phil Shaver's Intimacy Process Model, for example, indicates that healthy relationships require partners to respond to one another with interest and compassion. Meanwhile, experts also suggest that more effective communication can play a part in reducing workplace burnout.

On the other side of the coin, those who resist listening and instead simply attack others' points of view only further entrench the beliefs they are opposing. Psychologists explain this behavior via Jack Brehm's Reactance Theory, a model of behavior that explains individuals' defensive reactions when their freedom to choose is restricted. To learn more about Reactance Theory and how it affects social behavior, watch this short video here

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Kelso Harper
  • Director Maryna Buchynska, and action creative agency
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Olga Barabakh
  • Animator Marginai Iryna Harkavets
  • Art Director Maryna Buchynska, Marginai Iryna Harkavets
  • Composer Salil Bhayani, cAMP Studio
  • Sound Designer Amanda P.H. Bennett, Chengqing Zhu, cAMP Studio
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Abdallah Ewis
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace
  • Expert Consultant Guy Itzchakov , Harry Reis

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