The Importance of Listening Skills
Listening is one of the most important communication skills that we should have. It is not about hearing but being able to interpret and relay the message. Listening is critical as it maintains our relationships and gets the work done. It involves the process of assessing, understanding and responding to the message from the sender. Through listening, we get facts and information. It saves us the time from having to go over it again and again. By engaging in effective listening, we make our tasks easier. We build relationships and can make decisions effectively. By listening properly, we prevent mistakes and misunderstandings from happening. Moreover, it develops us as a person and helps build our career. Listening is a skill which we all benefited from this. It makes communication effective and improves productivity.
Principles of Listening
Nearly everyone says that they are a good listener. What does it mean to be a good listener? It means been attentive and responsive. Sometimes a simple nod or a gesture works wonders when words don't. To be a good listener, one needs to follow certain principles and rules. Outlined are some tips:
- Attention: look at the speaker and concentrate on what is being said. If you are having difficulty in focusing, it's best to breathe in and out deeply three times. It relaxes the mind, and one is able to pay attention.
- Don't talk: if a speaker is talking, it is very rude to cut him or her off by talking. Just listen and don't make any interruptions. Let the speaker finish whatever he or she is saying.
- Avoid Distractions: if you are sitting in a lecture hall and a guest speaker is speaking, avoid distractions. Don't fiddle with the phone, don't turn pages of the notebook and don't look out the window. Because doing these things disrupts the speaker and makes the other listeners distracted too.
- Practice Patience: if the speaker gives a pause, it doesn't mean that they are done. They may be giving the listeners time to process the message. Pauses are very useful speech tools. Give ear and don't interrupt.
- Capture Ideas: listen for ideas. It may come in handy when you speak or write. Focus and try to make out what the speaker is trying to say. Ideas are very useful.
- Look out for non-verbal communication: this is made up of gestures, facial expressions and eye contact. These do not require verbal clues. It is part and parcel of communication.
The above principles are categorised under active listening. The listener engages directly with the speaker. The speaker is able to transmit the message effectively and the listener is able to interpret and understand it. After listening, a person should reflect, think and reason it out. Then if they deem it necessary, they can give a good feedback to the speaker.
Let's Enhance Our Listening Skills
The most efficient way to improve our listening skills is through active engagement. In other words, we have to be active participants. We can do so by trying to interpret and understand what the speaker was saying. To do so, we need to pay attention. Try to nod to make the speaker aware that you are listening. In the end, we can clear our doubts by asking the speaker questions. We can clarify what was being said. To make it more effective, we should respond to the speaker by nodding, making eye contact and giving a response. If the listener asks for feedback, do so gladly. Give personal opinions or ideas. But first, mentally go over whatever the listener had said. If not able to provide an immediate response, ask for some time to process the message. Avoid interrupting other listeners and speakers. When making a response, care, to be honest. A person doesn't become a good listener overnight. It requires skill and experience. To develop listening skills, it is best to attend conferences, listen to the radio or television. Then try to remember what the person was trying to say. Interpret the message in a personalised manner. It enhances the listening skills. Moreover, it develops understanding skills. When being an active listener, it's always best to stop whatever you are doing and pay full attention. Concentrate on what the speaker is saying and deliberate on it. Then you can process and break down the message. Be mindful not to distract or interrupt the speaker. It leaves a negative impact on the message.