how to be a good listener

There’s a Chinese saying: 诉说是一种本能,倾听是一种教养。It basically means that, it is our instinct to talk but it takes an educated (cultured) person to listen.

We all know quite a lot active talkers and public speakers, but are there many good listeners around you?

I for one, is a big offender of not listening. I didn’t even bother ask questions! Because I used to be so soaked up in day dreaming, I didn’t really care to pay attention to anything else!

Why it is important to be a good listener? Because listening forms a vital part of communication. It was stressed almost everywhere nowadays that it is essential to have good “communication skills” in our modern society. But “communication skills” are quite often interpreted as “speaking skills”. That’s why there are so many courses out there teaching public speaking, sales & marketing etc.. But I’m yet to discover one course specialised in teaching “How to be a good listener.” Maybe most people think as long as one can hear, one can listen.

how to be a good listener

I once met a good public speaker and educator in sales and marketing. He has a perfect voice, great body posture and the confidence one needs to be a good public speaker. During a group conversation, he asked someone a personal question then immediately lowered his head to check his phone message. He then asked the same question later as if it was never asked or answered. Needless to say, the person who was asked felt a little annoyed the second time. By observing this little episode that night, I realized how easy it is to overlook the importance of being a good listener.

Someone famous (Dale Carnegie?) once said, you need to be interested to be interesting. He’s absolutely right.

So, how to be a good listener?

Here are 3 simple steps to start with:

1. Don’t be busy thinking about what you need to say next.

Very often, while other people are talking to us, we would be so busy thinking about what we should say next. It’s totally natural for wanting to come up with something relevant, even witty to say next. We might think it’s the best way of showing our conversational partner that we listened. But a lot of times, listening alone is all is needed. When we are so busy thinking about what to say in return, we stop listening attentively. Our conversational partners want to share and be understood.

2. Don’t interrupt.

“Interrupt” is one of the social attraction killers & I’m often guilty of that. Let your conversational partner finish with what he/she wants (needs) to say. Don’t interrupt them. Sometimes we are fulling listening and following but still can’t help but interrupt by the following

– Offering advice without being asked.

Like mentioned before, a lot of times, listening alone is enough. Don’t interrupt the person who’s speaking by jumping in offering advice unless she/he asks your advise specifically.

– Asking questions while the other person is still talking.

It’s all good to ask questions to show that you are listening and interested to find out more.

But try to hold onto your questions when the speaker stops talking.

Saying “me too” too quickly & stealing their thunder!

Don’t interrupt by saying “Me Too” eagerly and starting to sharing your story too soon:). Your conversational partner started first, let  her/him finish their story first.

3 Give your conversational partner your full attention by making eye contact.

Your body shows whether you are listening or not. If you really respect your conversational partner and want to listen to them with your full attention, lean towards them and make eye contact from time to time. That’ll also help you concentrate on what they are saying more.


I have a confession to make. I love eating and am kind of lazy. I don’t like exercise … much.

Thanks to my parents, I’ve never had overweight problems. But I did feel sluggish and guilty after a long period of being inactive.

Then I decided to change the situation and make moderate exercise part of my daily routine.

Because I’m the least disciplined person I know, it wasn’t an easy journey but I applied 3 steps to make it happen:

Daily dose of motivation.

Has it ever happened to you? You joined a gym with the good intention to go at least 4 or 5 times a week for the whole year. You did so for about 2 weeks. Then it becomes once a week. 2 monthly later, you stopped going altogether. I was one of those people.

Sustaining long lasting change often feels impossible because our will power is limited, when will power fails, we fall back to our old habits.

So I started to motivate myself everyday. I remind myself the pleasure of how to I felt after exercising; the pain of not exercising enough. And I’m strong enough to control my actions.

Make it easier by taking small steps everyday.

People say the minimum level of exercise is 30 minutes a day for at least 3 times a week. It doesn’t work for me.

3 days a week gave me too much flexibility…

Monday, too much work. Tuesday rained. Wednesday going out dinner with friends. Thursday shopping night. Friday, oh well the whole week has gone, let’s just start fresh from next week.

The solution for me is to do it every day right after I get up. Nothing over the top, just some pushups and yoga for 30 minutes.

At first, I got distracted by email messages and forgot about stretching completely. So I switched my mobile phone to flight mode every night and slept in my yoga top for a few days. I don’t need to do that any more but I never forget to stretch in the morning. Morning exercise has become one of my habits.

Enjoy it!

The more you do it, the better you’ll be come. The better you become the more you enjoy doing it.  Repeating an action for a long period of time, it becomes one of your habit.

So there you have it. My 3 steps of creating long lasting habits.

When you really want something, go for it . Make it happen.

Because you can.

5 good habits

5 good habits

Some people are naturally disciplined than others. Some people become more disciplined through continuously learning process. So if you are like me, the least naturally disciplined person, don’t be discouraged –  there’s hope for everyone:). I only started to know the importance of self discipline at a later stage in life but as they say, it’s never too late.  For those of you who are struggling to keep on track, I want to share the 5 daily habits I’ve recently developed and intend to keep for life. I also believe these are the 5 daily habits that can help you achieve more in life.

Get up early

There are early risers and there are night owls.

I used to resent getting up early in the morning to go to school and office. All these years I thought I would be the happiest if I could just wake up naturally every morning without using the alarm. I used to tell myself that I’m not a morning person so it’s ok to get up late in the morning. But started from this year I decided to challenge myself and be a disciplined person. I’m trying to get up before 7:30am every morning. You’d be surprised how much extra you can squeeze in one day if you just get up 2 hours earlier in the morning! I’m able to exercise everyday, have a healthy breakfast everyday and read everyday!


I’ve never had a regular exercise routine before this year. I do yoga, go the to gym, go dancing… only when I felt like it. If people asked me in the past: which days do you go to yoga during the week? I would have hated the question. Why do I have to fix certain days in the week to do yoga? I didn’t like fixed dates or rules. As a result, I didn’t excise when the weather wasn’t good enough, when I was tied, when I was moody, when I had other things to occupy more mind.

But this has all been changed. Nowadays, I start to stretch right after I got up and brushed my teeth. Pushups and plank pose are the ones I stick to everyday. I prepare my yoga clothes the night before so it’s easier to quickly put them on in the morning. 3 times a week at night, I go skipping rope. Again, I prepare my exercise clothes, drinking water and skipping rope earlier and put them next to the front door. I skip ropes in my garage no matter what the weather is like, I have no excuse not to go to the garage to jump rope.

Have a healthy breakfast 

I skipped breakfast for many many years. But now I have smoothie for breakfast almost everyday. It’s that simple.

I bought this powerful blender for smoothie at the beginning of last year, thinking I would start to have healthy breakfast from January last year. Instead, I used it for 3 times and left it there for the rest of the year. My mind decided last year that smoothie is not that filling enough for breakfast after 3 days. As a result, I reverted back to my old habit of having no breakfast at all.

The secret of make good habits is keep doing it regardless what you mind tells you what to do. After having smoothie for breakfast for a consecutive of 5 days, my body got completely used to it. My mind has stopped objecting the idea of having smoothie for breakfast too!

Read books 

One can never stop learning through reading books. People often say: who has the time to read now! Well, we can always make time. If one can check social media updates & emails every 5 minutes, surely we can find 3o minutes a day to read or listen to a book. My goal this year is to read at least one book a month. The way I’m doing it is that I divide the total pages of the book by the number of days in a month. For example, if a book has 300 pages in total and that month has 30 days, all I need to do is to read 10 pages a day. Keep doing this everyday in that month, I’ll slowly but surely finish the book in one month.

Read aloud 

In order to achieve more in life, one must be able to clearly express his/her thoughts to others. English is my second language. For years I have the desire to improve my English & communication skills but never put any real effort into it.

The theme of my goals this year is Communication. In the past years, I tried to read  aloud every now and then but never made it a daily habit. Hence I’ve never made any significant improvement. Now I’ve made a daily commitment to read out loud for at least 30 minutes a day, right after my daily stretches. It’s still early days and I don’t see any quick result yet but I know this daily habit is going to stay for life.

Who have thought setting goals and stick to them is this hard:). Maybe it’s easier for someone but it certainly hasn’t been easy for me. Luckily if there’s a will there’s a way. It all depends on how badly you want to achieve your goals. Remember:

Repeating an action makes a habit.

Your habits create your character.

Your character is your destiny.

May success be your destiny.

How to Set Goals And Achieve Them Over A period Of Time

As I repeated many times on this blog,  my main goal this year is to develop good habits and keep them. This goal needs to be reminded and reviewed every now and then to keep me on track as I can fall off the track so easily:).

Goal setting is a new concept I’ve adopted since 2012. It turned out, the whole process is not as easy as I first thought. There’s a deep learning curve for me from setting goals to learning how to achieve them in the end. Last few years’ pattern has been like this: I am always fully charged at the beginning of the year. My drive to keep up will generally last for a whole month till the end of January. Towards mid February, my passion for my goal list is gone. By the time it’s March, my goal list is totally forgotten. Everything would revert to my old, usual ways. By the end the year, I realise I haven’t done that much at all and whole year has slipped away, again. I still manageto achieve a little bit here and there but deep down I know that I have the potential to try much harder and I could have achieve a lot more. So you get the picture, I’m not happy with the progress I made in the last few years.

Well, this bad pattern must go and be replaced by something a lot better. I’ve made up my mind to take control and make the situation more satisfying. It’s late March 2015. I still have my goal lists and visit them once a week. And I have developed some beneficial habits and intend to keep them for life. So I’m slowly learning how to set goals and achieve them over a period of time.

Here are the 3 simple steps on how to set goals and achieve them over a period of time:

  • Identify the burning issues in your life and set your goals accordingly.

What’s the number 1 desire in your life at the moment? Is it weight loss? Looking for a new job? Attracting more clients for your business?

  • Develop a system on how to achieve your goals and set out a detailed action plan.

If weight loss is on the top of your agenda, develop a system on how to lose weight. There are many systems to make it work: go on extreme diet and eat little to nothing, exercise A LOT. Take skinny pills etc.. Say you want to develop a system to lose weight by eating less and excising more. You’ll then need a detailed action plan on what you eat, how often you eat, your daily & weekly excise routine etc.

  • Stay focused with consistent follow through.

Remind yourself of your goals periodically & review your process. Put your goals somewhere easily accessible so you don’t forget about them when you get busy. Review your progress and make amendments accordingly. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks easily. If your goal was to lose 5kgs in one month but you only managed to lose 0.5kg. Don’t give it all up because of that! Maybe this goal is too high for you. Usually slow and steady is the way to go!

Keep trying. Remember persistence is the key. Here’s my motivational quote of the week: “A river cuts through a rock not because of it’s power but it’s persistence. ”

How to Set Goals And Achieve Them Over A period Of Time