Effective listening skills is an important aspect for good communication. Listening is different from hearing. By listening we mean all our senses especially your mind and body will be focused and concentrated. Listening to others improve your personality.
What is Listening Skills?
The listening process starts from receiving the information or noise, and then your mind will interpret the information by your mental filters and little information will be remembered in your brain storage by which it is evaluated based on your judgment and finally the response will be delivered in the way of verbal voice or loud applause.
“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.”Rachel Naomi Remen
Listening differs from hearing in sense that:
Hearing implies just perceiving the sounds while listening means listening with understanding whatever you are listening. Both the body as well as mind is involved in listening process. Listening is an active process while hearing is a passive activity.
Hearing is an effortless activity while listening is an act requiring conscious efforts, concentration and interest. Listening involves both physical and psychological efforts.
Characteristics of Good and Effective Listener
Good and effective listener tries to give maximum amount of thought to the speaker’s ideas being communicated, leaving a minimum amount of time for mental exercises to go off track. A good listener:
- Is attentive- Good listener must pay attention to the key points. He should be alert. He should avoid any kind of distraction.
- Do not assume- Good listener does not ignore the information he considers is unnecessary. He should always summarize the speaker’s ideas so that there is no misunderstanding of thoughts of speakers. He avoids premature judgements about the speakers message.
- Listen for feelings and facts- Good listener deliberately listens for the feelings of the speaker. He concentrates totally on the facts. He evaluates the facts objectively. His listening is sympathetic, active and alert. He keenly observes the gestures, facial expression and body language of the speaker. In short, a good listener should be projective (i.e. one who tries to understand the views of the speaker) and empathic (i.e. one who concentrates not only on the surface meaning of the message but tries to probe the feelings and emotions of the speaker).
- Concentrate on the other speakers kindly and generously- A good listener makes deliberate efforts to give a chance to other speakers also to express their thoughts and views. He tries to learn from every speaker. He evaluates the speaker’s ideas in spare time. He focuses on the content of the speaker’s message and not on the speaker’s personality and looks.
- Opportunizes- A good listener tries to take benefit from the opportunities arising. He asks “What’s in it for me?”
Types of listening
- Active Listening – Active listening is a way of listening that focuses entirely on what the other person is saying and confirms understanding of both the content of the message and the emotions and feelings underlying the message to ensure that understanding is accurate.
- Pretending Listening – Is a way where listener is not concentrating and will not remember anything because he is actually daydreaming or being distracted by something else even though he will occasionally nod or agree using ‘stock’ safe replies.
- Selective Listening – It means selecting the “desired” part & ignoring the “undesired” part of the message.
- Intuitive Listening – It means listening through intuitive mind by silencing the internal dialogues going simultaneously.
- Empathic Listening – It is listening intently & intensively to understand the person fully, deeply both emotionally as well as intellectually.
Improving listening skills
- Don’t judge the message by the speaker but by the argument.
- Decrease your emotional impact.
- Fight distraction by closed doors and turning off radio and television.
- Don’t interrupt in the middle, please wait to hear the entire message fully.
- Provide feedback and let the speaker know that you are paying attention.
- Offer facial expression.
- Provide your criticism in a positive tone.
- Listen actively for key points, ideas and facts.
- Distinguish between evidence and argument, idea and example.
- Take brief notes so that key points can be discussed.
- Reserve your judgment until the speaker has finished the topic.