Listening Skills

Did you know?

Adults spend an average of 70% of their time engaged in some sort of communication, of this an average of 45% is spent listening compared to 30% speaking, 16% reading and 9% writing. (Adler, R. et al. 2001).

Listening Skills

Based on the research of: Adler, R., Rosenfeld, L. and Proctor, R. (2001) Interplay: the process of interpersonal communicating (8th edn), Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt.

Listening is the ability to accurately receive messages in the communication process.  Listening is key to all effective communication, without the ability to listen effectively messages are easily misunderstood – communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated

Listening is a process of receiving, interpreting and reacting to the messages received from the communication sender. Effective listening is an art of communication, which is often taken for granted and ignored. Like any other art, listening require to be cultivated consciously and carefully. Unfortunately, our education systems beginning from kindergarten up to college level do not pay attention to the teaching of effective listening. Poor listening can be considered, as a mighty barrier to communication as listening is fundamental to all communication. It often results in losing messages due to improper functioning of communication. Listening require conscious efforts of interpreting the sounds, grasping the meanings of the words and reacting to the message. Interpreting the sound signals is a cognitive act, which depends on the listener’s knowledge of the code signals and on its attitude towards the communication sender.

Active listening process begins when the listener pays attention to some audible sound signals and permits himself to interpret those sounds cognitively. It is a conscious process. Every human being possesses the ability to select from the sounds around him. But the selective listening is not an automatic process like that of hearing. An individual may hear many sounds but he may listen to none of them.

The receiver should carefully listen to the message to feel the pulse of the sender, to understand the mood and reactions and to create a congenial atmosphere for listening, which allows freedom of expression the speaker. Lack of good listening can create the embarrassing situations, which result in the lack of co -ordination and mutual understanding. A manager, who listens to the employees, gives them an opportunity to vent out their emotions. Effective listening also helps the managers to get the constructive suggestions from the employees. There is greater harmony and cohesion if the sender and the receiver listen to each other messages effectively. It can raise their morale and create togetherness.

Good listening skills make workers more productive. The ability to listen carefully will allow you to:

  • better understand assignments and what is expected of you;
  • build rapport with co-workers, bosses, and clients;
  • show support;
  • work better in a team-based environment;
  • resolve problems with customers, co-workers, and bosses;
  • answer questions; and
  • find underlying meanings in what others say.

Beware of the following things that may get in the way of listening.

  • bias or prejudice;
  • language differences or accents;
  • noise;
  • worry, fear, or anger; and
  • lack of attention span.
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