What are listening skills?
There can be many skills needed for effective communication, but listening skill is the skill that is the most important for everyone in this world.
It is the ability to listen accurately and interpret the message appropriately. It is the main important skill for anyone to effectively communicate else the messages may be misunderstood.
This may result in the conversation breaking apart.
That is why in most of the organizations nowadays training for listening skill is provided as it will result in the better satisfaction level in customers, fewer mistakes in internal and external communication, productivity will also be better.
Here, what we need to understand is that listening is not the same as hearing. Hearing is when any sound enters our ears irrespective of it providing any meaning or not. Whereas listening means appropriately understanding the same message as what the speaker said. This requires focus, concentration both mentally and physically.
It is a great saying, “80 % listening and 20 % speaking makes the communication effective“
For listening, there are some basic requirements which include:
- The environment should be Disturbance-free
- One conversation should happen at one time
- The conversation should happen with full concentration
- Appropriate environment
- Unbiased communication
- No preconceived notions before communication
- Open-minded conversation.
The listening should be done for the following reasons:
APPRECIATIVE LISTENING – This kind of listening is done to enjoy what you hear. It is done major time for enjoyment like when we listen to some music, sounds of birds especially when we want to relax.
INFORMATIVE LISTENING – This kind of listening is done to gather information like facts, directions, news, etc.
CRITICAL LISTENING – This kind of listening is done to examine and evaluate the message so that we can take out the logic, truth, and value of the message. This is where we are involved in decision-making or problem-solving.
It involves two things at one time first is acquiring the information, analyzing the same, and aligning it with the information which we already have. Most of the decisions we take in our day to day life are based on this kind of listening.
At this point in time, we need to make sure that we do this with open-mindedness and without having any preconceived notions or stereotyping.
PRECISION LISTENING – This kind of listening is done with the utmost precision, exactness, and clarity. For this, we need to single out one particular sound for clarity.
DISCRIMINATIVE LISTENING – This kind of listening is done by distinguishing between all the sounds in the environment. This was the first kind of listening which was developed when humankind came into existence as at that point in time the main purpose was to realize different kinds of sounds.
This is what a kid also does recognize the parent’s voices, different sounds. It develops through childhood and changes into adulthood.
SOCIAL LISTENING – This kind of listening is done with the intention to just make an effort to respond. In this kind of listening first, the speaker gain knowledge about the listener’s language skills and vocabulary skills.
It is what we do in the case of a classroom, business meeting wherein if the vocabulary and language is inappropriate the message will be missed and the correct meaning will be missed.
EMPATHETIC LISTENING – This kind of listening is done not only with words, but also to listen to another person’s feelings and thoughts. We need to listen and understand along with the ability to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and then listen.
This is therapeutic listening and it really helps in the clarification and getting to know the listeners better. This kind of listening is generally adapted when we speak to our family members or friends. This is also adapted by counselors, therapists, and professionals to understand the listeners.
The type of listening we adapt is based on the purpose of why we need to listen to the speaker. Once the purpose is clear we adapt the correct type of listening which needs to be adapted.
In general, it is said that human being has an average of 8 words of listening and grasping at one time but anybody can become a better listener. In the age of so much distraction, competition, the responsibility of work we need to understand what data we need to consume.
The 6 ways we need to adapt in order to become a better listener are:
LISTEN TO LEARN – Listening depends on the intention of the listener. We should not pretend to listen or pretend of being polite as curiosity is important so that listening is best. It will enable true conversation. That is why, when the conversation is about to start just thinking about why are you listening? It will set the mood for setting the conversation right.
SET THE AGENDA ASIDE – You cannot control others but yes, you can control your habits. During the conversation make sure that you keep the agenda aside and listen to the speaker and understand what someone else is trying to say.
ASK MANY POWERFUL AND IMPORTANT QUESTIONS – The best way to be a better listener is to ask more questions which are important and powerful. When you ask questions you create a lot of room for the speaker to tell what he/she wants to talk about. It also makes the speaker clear about your intention to listen.
EQUAL CONVERSATION – Make sure that the conversation is two-sided and both you and the speaker participates equally in the conversation. Here you need to take care that you are listening more and speaking less. This will help you to understand the speaker more.
REPEAT BACK WHAT YOU HEARD – In the process of conversation there can be many interferences, issues with the speaking skills of the speaker, or various other issues. The best way would be to repeat back what you heard and if there is some error during the process you can re listen to the speaker.
It will make the communication strong between both the speaker and the listener which will ultimately develop a better relationship between both.
WAIT TILL SPEAKER COMPLETES – This is one major issue during a conversation where both the people involved in the communication speak simultaneously. They do not wait until one person completes the message and when two person talks at one time there will be miscommunication. The ultimate purpose of communication will be lost.
So, when we take care of the above mentioned things the communication will definitely be positive, and in the end, it will result in a better relationship between speaker and listener.
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About the Author: Anju Jindal
Anju is a trainer, entrepreneur, and career growth specialist who helps students, working professionals, women, and Job seekers to reach out to their goals by implementing a Career Growth plan