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HRDQ will be closed on Friday (5/24) and Monday (5/27) for Memorial Day
6 Essential Types of Listening Skills - HRDQ

6 Essential Types of Listening Skills

Listening is an incredibly important skill for leaders to possess. Managers need to be able to hear out their employees, understand their needs and concerns, and respond in an effective and sympathetic manner.

But listening goes beyond simply hearing what one has to say. There are several types of important listening skills that ensure that the speaker feels heard, understood, and respected. To strengthen your workplace relationships, maintain positive workplace morale, and gain the trust of your colleagues and team members, it’s important to develop strong active listening skills.

To help you understand how to be a better listener, here are six essential types of listening skills.

Why Listening Matters

In leadership, listening means understanding the needs, concerns, and preferences of your colleagues and team members.

Leaders with strong listening skills are able to:

  • Resolve employee conflict
  • Understand their team members’ needs
  • Create a workplace environment that fosters productivity
  • Gain the trust of their employees
  • Understand the business objectives communicated to them by higher-ups

Being able to effectively listen to and understand your employees ensures that they feel valued, respected, and heard. Leaders with poor listening skills are often not able to develop strong relationships with colleagues and may lose the respect of their employees as they feel that their concerns aren’t being taken seriously.

6 Important Listening Skills

Listening requires more than hearing. To fully understand what someone is telling you, you need to actively engage in the conversation, reflect on what you hear, and clarify their message so that you can truly understand their message.

Here are six key listening skills that all leaders need to develop.

Empathetic listening

Empathetic listening means putting yourself in the shoes of the speaker in an attempt to fully understand their message. This involves attentively listening to their feelings, concerns, wants, and needs, and making it clear to them that you have heard everything they have to say and will respond in an appropriate and sympathetic manner.

Respect dissenting opinions

As a leader, it’s important to listen to and respect the opinions of your employees, even when they disagree with you. When an employee comes to you with a dissenting opinion, hear them out and try to understand their point of view. Even if you’re not able to reach an agreement, it’s important to ensure the employee feels as though their opinion is respected and not easily dismissed.


Reflection is an active listening technique that helps you convey your understanding of what the speaker is telling you. It involves occasionally paraphrasing the speaker’s key points to make it clear that you have heard and understood what they’ve said so far.

Paying attention

Paying attention to the speaker is the primary aspect of active listening. Don’t cut people off. Instead, let them finish speaking, and give them a little bit of time before responding to let them add anything that they may have forgotten. Always be respectful and pay attention to your own body language to ensure you aren’t coming off as impatient or distracted.


Clarifying means asking questions about anything that is confusing, ambiguous, or requires elaboration. If you are confused about something the speaker said, once they are finished, ask them to clarify their meaning.

Doing this ensures two things: that you fully understand what the speaker is trying to communicate to you, and that the speaker feels heard and understood. Asking for clarification tells the speaker that you are trying to understand their message and that you care about what they have to say.


Summarizing simply means restating what you have been told to ensure you have understood what the speaker is trying to convey to you. Throughout the conversation, and at the end of the conversation, summarize the key points of the discussion to demonstrate that you have truly listened to what they have to say. This also gives the speaker the opportunity to clarify anything that you might have misunderstood.

Develop Listening Skills with HRDQ

Listening is a key communication skill that makes employees feel valued, respected, and understood. When your employees feel that their concerns are effectively heard and addressed, you are able to create a positive working environment that encourages productivity and efficiency.

At HRDQ, we provide high-quality resources and training libraries that help leaders develop the important skills and qualities they need to succeed. Learning to Listen is an assessment, available in online and print formats, that determines listening effectiveness in three dimensions. With the optional classroom course learners explore the visible and invisible aspects of listening, learn what it takes both physically and mentally to listen, understand common barriers to effective listening, and create a plan to put new skills into immediate action.

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.