Listening For Understanding Essay, Research Paper
Listening is an important form of communication. Unfortunately, many people who do not know how to listen believe they can listen well. They often say “I have been doing this all of my life of course I can listen”. Listening is not inherited, or a personality trait, it is a skill that must be worked on and practiced.
Anybody can become a good listener if they are committed to learn how and are willing to work hard. The first mistake that people tend to make when listening is to not make any type of comments while listening. They tend to just stand there and listen while the speaker talks. This can become very frustrating for the speaker and the listener. While the speaker may feel like he isn’t being listened to, the listener may find some parts of the speakers talk confusing and hard to follow. Without comments, his concerns and confusion are never addressed. The simplest way to help a speaker along and show that you are listening is with subtle cues such as “hum”, and “uh”, “huh”. While this is not a complicated form of listening it shows the speaker that you are paying attention to them. This is also good to way to show the focus of your attention is on the speaker. These subtle terms can be increased in effectiveness by adding good posture, proper facial expressions and eye contact to show the speaker that you are paying attention. Not only will this make the speaker more at ease, but it gives you a chance, as a listener, to help clarify the conversation such as “You don’t say,” “what?” etc. These comments can show the listener not only that you are listening but that you might have questions concerning what is being said.
To be a good listener, one must always keep from becoming to emotional about the subject being discussed. If the subject being discussed makes you angry, you must keep from letting your emotions control you. Try to listen to what the speaker is trying to say and not to what is making you angry. Summarize the main points of what the speaker was saying so that the focus is on the speaker and not you. It is always important to try and listen objectively no matter what the speaker is trying to say. By doing this, you will become a better listener and more able to communicate with others concerning subjects that might normally make you angry to the point that you would no longer be able to carry on a working conversation with that individual. This will make you especially valuable in the management industry where, as a rule, people will come to you with problems that need to be resolved.
It is important to listen carefully and to withhold personal judgement. This is especially true when the subject matter or the position taken by the speaker is making you angry. In this circumstance, your interjections, if not thoroughly thought through, may just make the person defensive. Problems can also arise if you are too nice and give a lot of positive comments. People like it when they are being praised. This can alter what the speaker is saying. If you continue to give positive comments the speaker will continue to want more of them from you. If you want to find out what the speaker is really thinking you need to listen and withhold evaluation.
As well as withholding evaluation one must also show patience. While many activities require patience no other activity requires more patience than listening. According to Diana Bone most of us only listen at about 25% of what we are capable of. And that our belief in the fact that we are good listeners is one of the reasons for this. Diana Bone also says that with enough patience and hard work we can sustain 100% of listening effectiveness even if for only short periods of time. One of the hardest times to listen is when we have something to say. We must put what we want to say aside for a moment to allow a person to express their ideas. For a conversation or even a meeting to be successful someone must listen. It would be nice that when you have something to say someone would listen but do to peoples personalities this can not always be counted on. One of the best ways to get people to listen to you is to be a good listener yourself. If two people meet each other and both have something to say one of those people must there thoughts aside for the moment and allow the other to speak. If you are patient and allow that person to complete what they have to say, and you then show them that you listened and understood what they said. That person will be much more likely to listen to what you have to say and give you an opportunity to speak. Always let people finish what they have to say. We often become almost overwhelmed with what we want to say and quit listening to what the other person wants to say. We are only concerned with how we are going to get our point across and not what the person who is talking is trying to say.
Another example of a time when we should listen is when someone has made a slip of the tongue. We all make slip-ups in conversation. Does a situation like this sound familiar?
“Last year we sold over two thousand pairs of that style of Rollerblades at Christmas time alone.”
“You mean two hundred.”
“Two hundred you said two thousand it is two hundred.”
“Yeah, I know two hundred. What is your point?
“You said two thousand I was just correcting you”
“Ok, two hundred, now what was I talking about?”
In this example the speaker has lost his train of thought and has felt like he was scrutinized unfairly. He knew what he was trying to say and so does the person that has corrected him. The speaker may recover from the comments but may have ruined his effectiveness.
It is obvious patience combined with comments and practice can help you communicate more effectively. One of the most effective and active forms of listening is paraphrasing, the act of restating what someone else has said to show understanding. We all have learned a way of looking like we are listening weather we are really listening or not. This learned behavior complicates weather we can communicate effectively to one another. Paraphrasing in this manner can show that you have a good understanding of what the speaker is trying to say. Paraphrasing allows a person to check the accuracy of what the speaker is saying. I tell the speaker the parts that I understood and the speaker is than able to compare that with what speaker intended to say. If I paid attention to the speaker the speaker is assured of the fact I am listening. If I have listened poorly or misunderstood the speaker than he is given the chance to correct any misunderstandings at that time. One of the most useful times to use paraphrasing is when someone is complaining to you. You always feel better when you feel like you have been truly listened too. It has the effect of calming you down and makes you feel much more important. Even if you are unable to fix the problem completely you feel like someone has tried to help you.
Adler Ronald B. and Elmhorst, Jeanne Marquardt Communicating at work McGraw- Hill, Companies, Inc, 1999
Anastasi, Thomas E. Listen! Techniques for improving communication skills CBI
Publishing Company, Inc, 1982
Bone Diane The business of Listening Crisp Publications, Inc, Los Altos California, 1988