Effective Communication: Listening Skills

Hearing is a word we normally use in our day-to-day life. The process of hearing is natural and physical process. Whereas the Listening is a physical & mental process; active; learned process; a skills following and understanding the sound, it is hearing with a purpose. Some people consider listening as a natural ability and think that it can’t be improved. Listening is following and understanding the sound, it is hearing with the purpose.

Good listening can lead to the development of new relations, both formal or informal relation. The relations become stronger if there is a skill of good listening.
When we employ both the body and the mind, listening becomes the positive function in an understandable manner. One cannot listen without the concentration and without putting any efforts. That can be hearing which an effortless activity is. In any business, the ability to listen is quite important. Bad listener is always dangerous for the organization and can lead to complexity.

An attentive listener can make the speaker feel comfortable, can listen worker’s grievances carefully. It has been found in research that in an organization, 63% to 73% of time is spent in listening, which is actually not the pure listening. More than 95% of senior managerial time is spent in communicating, 45% of his time in spent in listening in the meeting, conferences etc.

Listening is a conscious activity based on three things:
Attitude : Maintain A Constructive Attitude
Attention :- Strive To Pay Attention
Adjustment- Learn To Make Adjustment.

Barriers to Listening
Few barriers affecting the effective listening are discussed as bellow:

  1. Unpleasant Physical Atmosphere: Noise is one of the barriers to active listening. One can become better listener if there is no noise, proper ventilated place and comfortable seating arrangement. There should be no loud music, hawking of vehicles, which is quite disturbance to the Active Listening.
  2. Excessive Talking: No wonder, people like to talk to the person who is quite friendly, but at the same time, they hesitate to talk to the person who talk too much and does not care to listen others.
  3. Emotional Disturbances: Excess joy, sorrows, excitement, sadness affect the listening process. These emotions can lead to impatience, disinterest and frustration. It is difficult to understand or appreciate what the speaker is saying if the listener is in excess joy, sorrow, excitement or frustration. It won’t be unfair to say that we should avoid conversation when the person is angry or excessively sad.
  4. Fear: People who are afraid during a discussion or conversation are not likely to listen. They become more protective and try to hide themselves. Fear can only worsen the situation. Keeping calm will give you mental strength to face any situation.
  5. Trying To Listen To More Than One Conversation At A Time: When we attempt to listen to somebody while keeping the radio or television on a good volume. Suppose you are talking on phone and some distracting voice exist.
  6. Physical Appearance Of The Communicator: It exist when we pay more attention towards the appearance of the speaker, whether we like him or dislike him, instead of listening him actively.
  7. Abstracting: The listener tends to focus on the certain topic and omits the other details spoken by the speaker. This type of selective listening can be a barrier in active listening.
  8. Pretending Listening: These types of listeners are notorious fake listeners. They behave in such a way that they are too busy in listening and maintain eye to eye contact continuously, but in their own minds they are busy in thinking something else. Such type of listeners are mentally preoccupied with other ideas and problems.
  9. Closed Mind: It becomes quite difficult to agree with the ideas and views of the speaker if we have ideals and values that we believe to be correct. If we try to understand why others think about things differently, it can lead to effective listening with a truly open mind.
  10. Judgments: A barrier to active listening exist when we thing that a person is not very bright or is under-qualified so there is no point listening to what they have to say.

Guidelines for Effective Listening
No doubt, Listening is an important part of the communication process. Good listening is arguably one of the most important skills to have in today’s complex world. Effective listening is important for a person at every phase of his life. . Students need it to understand complex issues in their educational fields. People in corporate need it to solve complex problems in effective and stay competitive manner. In one’s personal life, a person need good listening to face the stresses and tie the relations together.

It is surprising to see that when we talk of improving the communication, most attention is paid to making people better speakers or writers rather than on making them better listeners or readers. A skillful listener will know how to overcome many of the deficiencies of a vague or disorganized speaker. On the other hand, it won’t matter how eloquent or cogent a speaker is if the listener isn’t paying attention.

Listening is an active, physical and mental process. Therefore, few guidelines for effective listening are:

  1. Get Rid of Distractions: Distractions can be both external and internal. While listening, get rid of all distractions, which are not allowing you to concentrate. Clear your mind of thoughts of the different activities.
  2. Talk Less: You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason. You are supposed to listen more and talk less. Interject your own ideas, advises or thoughts to listen and understand the speaker.
  3. Active Listening: Be alert, sympathetic and active while listening. Try to understand the speaker’s point of view.
  4. Open-ended Questions: If you want to ask any question, that should be enough sincere. Sincere questions represent requests for new information that will clarify key ideas. Open-ended questions don’t shut down a conversation. Your questions should not make any statement instead of asking any new information.
  5. Leave the Part Already Been Covered: As a listener, avoid the part that has already been covered by the speaker, otherwise, you will miss the information being conveyed at present.
  6. Emotional Barrier: Emotional barriers to be avoided to listen effectively. Think rather than feel, respond rather than react!
  7. Hasty Judgments: Be willing to learn and to change your point of view. Don’t try to make hasty judgments about the speaker, topic or the contents.
  8. Stop Over-Writing: Avoid making too much notes of the words spoken by the speaker, as it will prevent you to analyze and evaluate the message or speech.
  9. Be Present in Time: Be present in time at the venue, well before the speaker starts speaking. It will enable you to settle yourself comfortably, both physically and mentally.
  10. Listening and Understanding: Take the efforts to listen not only the words but also the feelings being conveyed by the speaker.

Mangesh Wankhade



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