Improve Your Active Listening Skills

Today’s employers are recruiting finance and accounting professionals with a solid set of soft skills. Although, CFOs still emphasize technical skills, over half value job candidates with soft skill assets.  Whether you are actively seeking a finance position or advancing in the profession, focusing on your soft skills is a sure boost to your career. Central to communication abilities is active listening.   Active listening refers to a method of listening that keeps you engaged. It means to listen attentively, paraphrase, reflect and withhold judgement.  It is more than just hearing someone else speak. When you actively listen, you listen with all of your senses making the person speaking feel heard and valued.  Hence, active listening is the foundation for successful conversations.

Engage Others in an Active Listening Dialogue

Engage your friends and colleagues in conversations about active listening. Observe their listening actions as you exchange ideas. Take note of:

  • Mannerisms that make you feel that you are being heard.
  • Actions that are disconcerting or convey lack of attention.
  • Methods people use to reflect on what they have heard.

Follow up with a conversation about the experience. You’re likely to gain insights to shape your active listening style.

Listen and Learn

Learn to listen well by reducing inner thoughts while another is speaking. This is especially likely to happen when time for a dialogue is limited, as during an interview or client meeting. Here are some tips for becoming a focused listener:

  • Keep a comfortable level of eye contact.
  • Take a slow, calm breath to refocus if your mind wanders.
  • Assume a comfortable posture for effective listening.
  • Wait for a pause to offer a reflective statement or question.
    • Doing so demonstrates active listening.
    • This gives you the chance to gain clarity or added information.

Lean in with Meaning

Use non-verbals to communicate attentiveness. Simple actions such as these convey a world of meaning:

  • Nod your head to express agreement or acknowledge what is being said.
  • Lean toward the person to show that you are fully engaged in listening.
  • Use facial expressions to show appreciation for the speaker’s message.
  • Refrain from being distracted or fidgeting to show respect for what a prospective employer or client is sharing.


For more communications tips, check out Communications Skills for Workplace Success