Listening Skills

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Did You Hear Me?  
Are you someone who likes to listen to people as they speak with you? Do you understand the power that comes from listening to someone and validating their concerns, even when you cannot answer their questions?
In this lesson, you’ll consider what it means to listen well. We’ll also review your pre-assignment.
Listening Skills
Active Listening
Listening is not the same as hearing. When we are serving callers, it is helpful to use specific techniques that help to strengthen listening skills.
Callers will often state that the reason they didn’t get what they ordered, needed, or asked for was because the CSR didn’t hear what they said. Most CSRs understand how important it is to have good speaking skills. Few CSRs, however, are already skilled at listening when they join the industry.
Hearing is physical. Sound reaches the eardrum, creates vibration, and gets relayed to the brain. Listening is actually differentiating among those sounds and creating meaning from what you hear; listening is more of an attitude.
In its broadest sense, listening can be passive or active. Passive listening means looking or seeming like you are listening without giving the speaker your full attention. Active listening means that you are giving the speaker your full attention.
Here are some techniques that will help you listen actively. (You may want to copy these tips onto a reference card at your desk and keep it handy.)
Clear your desk so that you have only the things nearby that help you to provide service to your callers.
Have forms, notepads, pens, and any technical materials (like directories, reference material, and charts) nearby.
Sit up straight at your desk (or stand straight) to allow you to breathe and operate efficiently.
Listen for sounds nearby. If there are loud noises or distractions, you might need to put a do not disturb sign on your door or desk. Turn off radios or loud machines that can distort noise during your phone call.
Zero in on the Matter at Hand
In order to really listen to your callers, you must make a decision to pay attention to what they say.

  • Be polite.
  • Listen for cues (words that help explain what they want and need).
  • Let them have their say.


  • Interrupt.
  • Give in to your biases.
  • Mix fact with feeling.

A Few Words about Biases

  • We all have them.
  • Identify your biases about people, places, and things.
  • Acknowledge that, as a CSR, your biases cannot influence your professional behavior. You must control, not act on, your biases.