Studies show that about 80% percent of our day is spent communicating with others and almost half of that is spent listening. We listen more than we read, write or talk, yet we spend little time developing and honing active listening skills.

So how do you evaluate your listening skills? Have you ever caught yourself thinking and preparing a response to someone while they are still speaking? Our world is moving at such a rapid pace with mile-long to-do lists and impending deadlines that focusing our attention to listen can be difficult. We may even think of it as a hindrance or a sacrifice instead of an essential step in the communication process. However, partial participation in a conversation can often cause you to miss important details or the opportunity to make a lasting connection. It may even convey a lack of real interest to another.

When we listen with the intent of truly wanting to understand the other person’s perspective, we build a sense of trust and create alignment around the conversation’s goals and objectives. Good listening skills can make you a better collaborator, a more effective communicator and a valuable member of your organization.

One of the simple ways to help you focus on the other person is to practice an Echo listening technique. Echo listening is a simple process where you repeat word-for-word in your own head what your partner is saying and also restate back to them some key spoken words mimicking their tone and body language. This approach helps your mind stay focused in the moment and makes it easier to process what is being said. Your body language also expresses an emotional tone that can convey supportive non-verbal cues.

So, if you’re interested in becoming a better listener, put the Echo technique to use in your next conversation and notice and how you can more easily grasp the meaning and perspective of your partner. With practice, you can bring back the art of listening and watch the positive effect it has on all of your conversations.