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When we talk to someone, it’s easy to prepare ourselves to respond immediately tr other person’s words way before they have completed their statement. We listen, but only to respond and hardly listen to understand.

That’s why it’s important to develop the habit of active listening.

Active listening means giving the speaker undivided attention and feedback to show that you are listening to what they are saying. It is a skill that requires planning, practice, and patience to master.

One way you can master this skill is to set SMART goals that help you apply active listening as a habit in your daily life. This will make you a better communicator and help you win more friends.

So in this article, we’ll talk about the importance of setting SMART goals related to active listening and then we’ll provide seven SMART goals examples you can use to improve your listening skills.

Let’s begin with a simple definition.

(Side note: One of the best ways to get what you want from life is to create and set SMART goals. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.)

What are SMART Goals?

We all have objectives that we want to achieve in our lives. Some of us make an active effort to accomplish these objectives, while others put them “some day.” Any objective you make no effort to complete is merely a dream or a wish. Any wish or dream that you make an active effort to achieve will become an objective.

Do you know that only twenty percent of the global population ever sets clearly defined goals? Out of the twenty percent, only forty percent accomplish their goals. If we do the math, we conclude that only eight out of every hundred people can achieve what they desire.

One common reason for not accomplishing what we desire is that we are unsure how and where to start. It is essential to have clearly defined objectives and a plan on how to achieve them.

SMART goals help you specify and define what you want to achieve and plan to achieve them. With a narrowed down and focused vision of your target, getting there becomes significantly easier, increasing your chances of accomplishment.

Say if you were to set a goal, “I want to be a better listener,” for yourself. This goal is broad and will probably end up on the “things I plan to do one day” list. But if you were to set up SMART goals for improving your listening skills, you can be well on your journey to sharpening your listening skill today.

SMART is an acronym and it states that a goal must have the following five characteristics:

  • Specific: The goal needs to be specifically defined and narrowed down.
  • Measurable: It must have some quantitative or other factors attached to it to track your progress towards it.
  • Attainable: It must be achievable, or someone must have accomplished something similar.
  • Relevant: It must have a significant value in your life
  • Time-Bound: It must have a deadline, a date you want to see yourself accomplish the goal.

It is important to follow the right method to set SMART goals. You can use the Ultimate Guide to SMART Goals for steps that you need to take to make setting and achieving goals easier.

Why SMART Goals are Important for Listening Skills

Many people often set themselves up for failure because they set goals that are unrealistic, too vague, or even irrelevant to them. A goal such as “I want to be the best listener” is vague and has no direction. It will make no sense to you in the long run, and you will probably give up on it before you even begin to work on it.

Setting SMART goals for listening skills is crucial because it helps to define your objectives and ideas clearly. Since they provide a clear vision of the goal that you are trying to achieve, they help you remain focused on the goal.

Everyone has multiple tasks to complete regularly. It is possible to lose track of your listening goals in the clutter you have to handle every day. SMART goals can be broken down into small tasks that you can accomplish every day to inch closer to your bigger objective.

For example, in your attempt to improve your listening skills, you set a SMART goal to improve eye contact. You can keep this objective in mind and track your daily progress of how well you are doing. It is much easier than tracking how much of a better listener you have become over the day.

Another reason for setting SMART goals for listening skills is getting the opportunity to celebrate your mini-achievements. For example, you set a goal to make proper eye contact with ten people in a day. When you achieve this goal, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and will be motivated to put in extra effort to achieve more.

SMART goals allow you to separate your objectives from wishful thinking. The goals set are more attainable and often have room for error.

For instance, this goal is achievable when you set a goal of improving your listening skills by making proper eye contact with ten people every day for the next ten days. It is separated from a wish to become excellent at eye contact by tomorrow, which would not be attainable, and you will eventually give up on it.

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Since SMART goals provide a clear vision of the goal that you are trying to achieve, they help you remain focused on the goal.

SMART goals also make sure that you have a reason for achieving the goal, which turns out to be your burning desire. You are more likely to give up on your goal without a valid reason. For instance, you want to improve eye contact because you want to improve your listening skills. A solid reason will keep you going in the direction of your objective.

Lastly, SMART goals completely eliminate the “things I will do someday” list. They set a timeline and a deadline for you to achieve your goal.

For example, improve eye contact by making proper eye contact with ten people for ten days. This has a deadline of ten days. It allows you to keep track of the time you are taking to accomplish your goal.

Okay, now that you know why setting SMART goals are important, let’s dive into the seven examples.

7 SMART Goals Examples for Active Listening

1. Make Eye Contact

I want to improve my eye contact with people speaking to me. I will do this by consciously making eye contact with six people every day for one week. I will make eye contact for ten seconds, break for a few seconds, and then make eye contact again.

Specific: Improve eye contact with people who are speaking to me

Measurable: I will make eye contact in ten-second intervals with at least six people every day

Attainable: Consciously putting in the effort makes this goal attainable

Relevant: I want to improve my listening skills, and eye contact is a crucial element of active listening

Time-Bound: I have set a deadline of one week for this goal to see how I am making progress.

2. Provide Non-Verbal Feedback

I want to provide non-verbal feedback to the speaker to let them know I am intrigued by what they are saying. I will consciously turn my body towards the speaker and nod my head to indicate to the speaker that I am actively listening. I will carry on this practice for one week and try to talk to more than five people every day. 

Specific: Make it a habit to provide non-verbal feedback to the speaker

Measurable: I will consciously practice turning towards the speaker and nodding my head for one week, with at least five people every day.

Attainable: Consciously putting in the effort makes this goal attainable

Relevant: I want to improve my listening skills, and non-verbal feedback is an important element of active listening

Time-Bound: I have set a deadline of one week for this goal to see how I am making progress.

3. Paraphrase What People Say

Providing verbal feedback is one of the best ways to let a speaker know I am listening to them. I will make it a habit to acknowledge what the speaker is saying by paraphrasing what they say. I will start by paraphrasing small statements for ten days and move to bigger statements after that. I will make sure that I give strong verbal feedback to at least three speakers every day.

Specific: Make it a habit to provide verbal feedback to the speaker

Measurable: I will practice giving verbal feedback to at least three speakers every dayfor ten days

Attainable: I am planning to start with small statements and move to bigger statements after some practice 

Relevant: I want to improve my listening skills, and verbal feedback is an important element of active listening

Time-Bound: I have set a deadline of ten for this goal to see how I am making progress. I will then increase the challenge

4. Use Non-Judgmental Statements

I want to be open-minded and stop being judgmental about what the speaker is saying. If I disagree with the speaker’s viewpoint, I will politely let them know that I disagree and not criticize or attempt to enforce my viewpoint on them. I will consciously practice this activity for the next thirty days with anyone I disagree with. 

Specific: I want to be open-minded and stop being judgmental about what the speaker is saying.

Measurable: Ican count the number of times I politely told a speaker that I disagree

Attainable: Consciously putting in the effort makes this goal attainable

Relevant: I want to improve my listening skills, and having an open and non-judgmental mind is an important element of active listening

Time-Bound: I have set a deadline of thirty days for this goal to allow myself to overcome old habits

5. Ask Clarifying Questions

I am an extreme introvert and often do not speak out. I want to let the speaker know when I don’t understand something. I will make a conscious effort to ask questions like “Can you please explain this further?” and “I did not get what you said about …. , can you please clarify?” whenever I don’t understand what was said. I will consciously hold onto this practice for sixty days.

Specific: I want to let the speaker know when I don’t understand something

Measurable: I can count the number of times I told a speaker when I did not understand something

Attainable: Consciously putting in the effort makes this goal attainable 

Relevant: I want to improve my listening skills, and I cannot be a good listener if I do not fully understand what the speaker is saying

Time-Bound: I have set a deadline of thirty days for this goal to allow myself to overcome old habits

6. Practice Patience During Conversations

I want to allow the speaker to complete what they are saying before I begin to share my thoughts on the subject being discussed. I will consciously control the urge to cut the speaker off at all times. I will hold on to this practice for the next thirty days to see how I am progressing

Specific: I want to allow the speaker to complete what they are saying before I begin to share my thoughts

Measurable: I can count the number of times I controlled myself from cutting the speaker off

Attainable: Consciously putting in the effort makes this goal attainable 

Relevant: I want to improve my listening skills, and I cannot be a good listener if I cut off other people in the middle of their statements

Time-Bound: I have set a deadline of thirty days for this goal to allow myself to develop this habit

7. Allow Other People to Speak First

If the other person and I start talking simultaneously, I will give way to the other person and allow them to complete what they are saying before I begin to share my thoughts. I will consciously stop myself in such scenarios for the next thirty days.

Specific: I will give way to the other person and allow them to complete what they are saying

 Measurable: I can count the number of times I gave the other person the go-ahead in such a situation

Attainable: Consciously putting in the effort makes this goal attainable 

Relevant: I want to improve my listening skills, and I cannot be a good listener if I try to prove my point without listening to the other person’s perspective

Time-Bound: I have set a deadline of thirty days for this goal to allow myself to develop this habit

Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Listening Skills

Setting SMART goals for listening skills is important because it helps you identify the specific actions you need to develop in order to better appreciate what people are tell you. So if you’d like to become an active listener, I suggest that you review this list of seven goals and pick one that best fits your personal situation. From there, we suggest that you follow this step-by-step process on how to set and achieve SMART goals.

Also, if you’d like to see another related article, then here are some examples of SMART communication goals which will help you become a better communicator.

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.

smart goals for listening skills | goals to improve listening skills | smart goals examples

7 SMART Goals Examples for Improving Your Listening Skills




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