Most salespeople think they they are good listeners–who would want to admit otherwise? Unfortunately, not all are as good as they think. “Listening is a bit like intelligence–most everyone thinks they’re above average, even though that’s impossible,” writes Travis Bradberry in a recent article for Inc. The good thing is that it’s never too late to improve listening skills, and Bradberry shares seven habits of effective listeners in his article. Below are just three of his “straightforward strategies” for improving one’s listening:

  • Focus. This seemingly simple step may very well be the most difficult for some to achieve. When others are talking, especially during a one-on-one conversation, it’s tough to reign in your mind from racing. Most people immediately start thinking of their own reactions to what the speaker is saying and how they will respond. Take the time and make the effort to really focus on what the speaker is saying and how he or she is saying it.
  • Put the phone down. There’s no way you can give your full attention to a speaker if you keep glancing at your phone.
  • Practice reflective listening. Reflective listening is defined as “ the listening strategy of paraphrasing the meaning of what’s being said to make certain you’ve interpreted the speaker’s words correctly.” By using your own words to clarify what you’ve heard, you are not only confirming your own understanding but also revealing to the speaker that you ARE listening and comprehending.

Even if you think you are an excellent listener, it can’t hurt to consider Bradberry’s suggestions and use them as a guideline for your own behaviors. Plus, no one is a natural-born perfect listener. Listening is a skill that requires thoughtfulness, practice and consideration—in other words, you must hone those skills. “…effective listening isn’t something you can do on the fly,” Bradberry writes. “It requires a conscious effort.”