In this fast-moving world, we all know it’s important to stay on top of things and improve our communication skills.

[Read more: Here’s why you shouldn’t use cotton buds to clean your ears]

But with so much information, sometimes it’s easy to switch off and not pay attention to what someone is saying.

Listening takes time and effort, and if you don’t like what you’re hearing, it’s tempting to ignore other people’s views, get distracted and digress into your own little world.

After all, being a good listener can be harder than you think, especially if you’re trying to grasp what a person’s saying in a limited period of time – we’re all guilty of having a short attention span.

So, listen-up and take the following into consideration…

1. Try to comprehend what’s being said

Some people aren’t good communicators. If they start to waffle on, try to make sense of it all and don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s nothing wrong in saying: “Would you mind repeating that?” or, “I didn’t quite get that.”

2. Notice changes in body language

Look and listen. A good listener should watch a person’s expressions, hand movements and voice. If they’re looking and sounding emotional, try to appear relaxed. If they’re sounding cross, try to be non-confrontive.

[Read more: 10 reasons to have your hearing checked]

3. Don’t rush in with your own views

Weigh up what they’re saying and decide whether to add input or just listen to the message they’re trying to get across. It’s always tempting to surpass what someone else is saying, but it could be in your best interest to hold back.

4. Think before you talk

When it’s your turn to hold the floor or respond, take a few seconds to collect your thoughts. Again, no-one’s going to frown if you say: “Can I have a minute to think about that.” Not only does it give you time, but the speaker will feel that what they’ve said was worthwhile and merits some reflection.

5. Judge when it’s OK to interrupt

Nothing’s more frustrating than someone butting in on what you’re trying to say. Not only do you lose your train of thought, but it means the person you’re talking to isn’t focusing on the message you’re trying to get across. Let them have their say, unless they’re being extremely long-winded, and some interruption is justified. 

If when it comes to listening you think it’s your hearing rather than your concentration levels that’s at fault, visit your GP to get your ears looked at.