Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Listening With Intention

Pay attention and show it. Whether we are talking on the phone or in person, people can tell if we’re not really listening. We indicate it in our lack of eye contact, our preoccupied tone of voice and our lack of responses to the one who is speaking to us.  It’s very irritating and hurtful to someone when the person who is supposed to be listening is obviously not doing so.

That is why communications with customers and clients, coworkers, friends and family, requires effective listening. Active listening is a communications concept that includes restating the remarks of the other person to ensure accuracy of understanding. That’s a good idea–although not easy to do without sounding contrived.  Another way to ensure understanding and to demonstrate our interest in what the other person is saying is to listen with intention.

  • Look interested (without staring the other person down or glaring at them).
  • Use encouraging comments (without being excessive).
  • Ask questions (without sounding as though you are interrogating the other person.

Do you see a pattern there? Moderation is needed in listening as in everything else. You’ll know that if you recall talking to someone who made noises and exclamations throughout, or who made such close eye contact you felt uncomfortable. 

All you have to do to listen with intention is to intend to listen.

Make a commitment to give people your undivided attention when they talk to you:

  • Put down your work when a customer or coworker comes over to talk to you.
  • Turn away from the computer when a subordinate or colleague needs to ask a question or discuss a concern.
  • Don’t keep typing or browsing on the Internet when you’re talking on the phone–people can tell you aren’t really paying attention.

You’ll find you are better able to respond to people when you fully understand what they have said–and what they have not said. The nuances of communication can only be noticed when you are  paying close attention–with intention. Try it and see how people react to having you obviously listening to them. Notice also how you feel when others obviously arent. Make intentional listening part of your customer service habits as well as your habit in building a positive relationship at work and at home.

October 10th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | 2 comments


  1. This is something I have to remind myself about all the time. I get busy typing and sometimes I’ll type several pages while someone is talking to me. I can hear them and understand them, but I know it doesn’t seem I can, because so many people have asked me if they should come back. I say no and stop the computer work. I’m really doing better about it. But some people take SO long to get to the point! Any ideas for that? Phyllis

    Comment by P.A.H. | October 10, 2008

  2. Tina says: Thanks for your comment Phyllis. Your situation of typing while trying to listen, happens a lot. That’s why it’s easier to turn away immediately so you can’t type. Listen is more than hearing the words, it’s also interacting with the person talking. You can’t do that while doing something ele.

    If some one is misusing your time, you may need to stand up to move them along. Or, tell them at the beginning that your time is limited. If they are a customer you may be able to ask a few questions to put things back on the right track. But, you do your part to communicate effectively! Thanks again for the comment. Tina

    Comment by TLR | October 11, 2008

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