Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

The Art of Listening in Learning

”There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.”
– G.K. Chesterton

And all that difference is whether you pay your entire attention to the other person or not.

When you listen to someone, there’s no one else in the world but the person you listen. Also, when you listen, you feel interested by what the other person is saying, and you try to understand her.

Listening is much more than being quiet. It is addressing a basic human need of the other, like water or food. The need for attention. You understand this need if you think about the times you needed someone to listen to you actively to know what you were living.

If you master the listening skill, you’ll likely to master your learnability and create the bonds enhancing relational learning. Thus, to master the art of listening you need six simple things.

Eye contact

When you look at the eyes of the person teaching, you enhance the comprehension of what he or she is saying, but also memorize better that moment. The eye contact shows how much you care for the other and your learning.


The letters of listen and silent are the same because both are intrinsically related.

”We have two ears and only one tongue so that we may hear more and speak less.”
– Diogenes Laertius


There are two purposes for interrupting someone: say something or ask for something. While the first means you haven’t emptied your thoughts to listen actively, the second is the result of listening and search for a better understanding.

You ask questions to clarify, go deeper into what the other is saying and enter into the heart of listening. Learning through listening flows through questions.


Forming responses in your mind while listening to someone is a form of cluttering the space of understanding. The art of listening requires space to allow connecting the dots of the newly received information with your experience. You can do this by emptying your thoughts.


The art of listening moves your body toward gestures expressing a non-verbal communication affecting the interaction with the person from whom you’re learning. If your gestures welcome what the other is saying, your body tells you’re listening, the other feels motivated to transmit the message, and the result is improved learning.


When you listen to learn, you observe. An attentive gaze is a sign of active listening and the chances of memorizing what you’re learning increase dramatically.

It’s never too late to become an artist of listening to cultivate a learning mind, be happier and evolve. Don’t start one day. Choose day-one.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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