Listening is a vital part of communication
Effective communicators are often good listeners more than good speakers. Listening skills are an essential part of communication. Often communication skills are understood as the ability to speak we ll and very few people recognise the value of the true listening. Training programs by organisations place great emphasis on holding the presentation skills, oral and written communication skills but pay little attention to fine tuning the listening abilities of their employees. This is because people perceive their hearing ability to be same as listening skills. We often think we are listening when we are only hearing. There is a world of difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a physiological function that occurs by default while listening involves a deliberate act of paying attention on order to understand what the other person is saying. Often poor listening is the root cause of several work place problems. Errors, mistakes, misunderstandings and conflicts arise in the organisations solely on account of poor listening skills of people. It is high time both individuals and organisations pay attention to developing this hugely underrated soft skill, the lack of which results in large scale insidious damage. Active listening essential to achieve win-win communication. Today conference calls are the most predominantly used communication tools to coordinate the activities. Between teams of employees working from different locations within and outside the country. In these settings, lack of good listening skills can lead to utter chaos. Active listening implies paying complete attention to the speaker and making an effort to understand what he is trying to say. Sounds pretty simple but often while listening we do the speaker. We are busy doing something else or just fidgeting with a pencil or a paperweight that takes away our attention from the speaker. Most of the time we simply wait for our turn to speak up or mentally prepare ourselves to counter the speaker or worst skill interrupt the speaker and divert the topic quite unwittingly. Out judgments and internal thoughts about the speaker distract us too. As you move higher up the corporate ladder you need to use more of your listening skills. This is because only when you understand the problems and concerns of your employees you can remove roadblocks to successful performance. Studies indicate that managers earn 60 per cent of their salaries only for listening! Conversely only when you have good listening skills you can move up the corporate ladder faster. When you listen well you understand well. When you understand well you perform well and success is all yours when you perform well. A few tips to help master the art of listening:
Listen with a purpose:
Cultivate the habit of listening with a purpose to stop your mind from wandering when the other person is speaking. The purpose could be to gain new knowledge, understand a different perspective, follow instructions, empathise with the speaker and share feelings or solve problems.
Maintain eye contact with the speaker to focus your attention on him. Gestures such as smiles and nods keep you tuned in to what the speaker is saying.
Encourage the speaker by using statements like ³Your have an interesting point there««..´. ask for clarifications if you have any doubts and never try to subdue or undermine others while they are speaking.
Never be in a hurry:
When you listen in a hurry you may not gain complete understanding of what is being said. Allow the speaker the time to complete what he is saying so that you properly understand his message. Jot down important points when ever possible.
Some times we may not interpret the speaker correctly. Our own mental filters, judgments, assumptions, beliefs and feelings come in the way of proper understanding of the message conveyed by the speaker. So the best thing to do would be to repeat what you understood from the speaker¶s words to check if both of you are on the same page. Always think of listening as an active pursuit and you stand to gain immensely. You motivate the speakers to give you as much information as they can. You grasp problems, situations and instructions well and this helps you to perform well. People will listen to you in return and cooperate with you better. Costly mistakes and conflicts can be avoided. Successful people understand that to listen well is a powerful means of influence just like the ability to speak well. They value listening as an essential element of conversation that makes communication meaningful.
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