Listening Skills

We were given two ears but only one mouth. This is because God knew that listening was twice as hard as talking. Listening is rarely taught at school; because educators and everyone else assume listening is tantamount to breathing… automatic. But effective listening is a skill. Like any other skill competency in listening is achieved through learning and practice.

Listening takes time or more accurately you have to take time to listen. A life programmed, a mind constantly buzzing with plans, anxieties, and schemes is difficult to hear. Other barriers to listening are:-

·         Ø  Worry, fear, anger, grief and depression

·         Ø  Individual bias and prejudices

·         Ø  Semantics and language difference

·         Ø  Noise and verbal clutter

·         Ø  Boredom, shrinking attention span.

Listening is a precious gift- the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems resolve conflicts and improve conflicts. At work it means fewer errors and less waste of time. Listening builds friendships and careers. It saves money and marriages.


How can we improve listening skills?

        I.            The first skill that you can practice to be a good listener is to act like a good listener. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact. Your eyes pick up the non verbal signals that all people send out when they are speaking. A speaker will work harder at sending out the information when they see a receptive audience in attendance. Your eyes complete the communication circuit that must be established between speaker and listener.

      II.            Be attentive yet relaxed. Listen carefully so that you can understand, comprehend and evaluate. Careful listening will require a conscious effort on your part. Be mentally and physically prepared to listen. Put other thoughts out of your mind.       

    III.            When beginning a conversation with others keep in mind that everyone is a decision maker and a customer for your ideas. Their decision about whether to cooperate and how much effort to put into it influence your results.

    IV.            Begin listening to others from a neutral open minded state. This allows you to concentrate and focus on what others are saying to you. Listen with empathy. See the situation from other's point of view. Demonstrate respect for their point of view.

      V.            Pay attention not only to the logical content of what someone is saying but also to how to say it, that is how they feel about the subject under discussion. It turns out how people feel about an issue or a person is a key determinant in decision making. If you listen to emotions rather than words you will notice an interesting thing- You will absorb both and understanding will be deeper.

    VI.            Don't argue mentally. First listen, absorb what the speaker is saying and think over it. Don't antagonize the speaker. This could cause someone to conceal important ideas, emotions and attitudes.

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