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What Effective Listening Is Effective listening is actively absorbing the information given to you by a speaker, showing that you

are listening and interested, and providing feedback to the speaker so that he or she knows the message was received. Delivering verbal communication, like writing a newsletter, involves trying to choose the right words and nonverbal cues to convey a message that will be interpreted in the way that you intend. Effective listeners show speakers that they have been heard and understood.
When someone is speaking to them, they say, “I hear what you are saying” rather than, “I am listening to what you are saying”. In reality there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. Note: As a little note, this hub can be used as reference for people who are working towards any qualifications in customer service and mostly NVQ Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma or certificate in Customer Services. This can be used as reference for the unit below: Unit A3: Communicate effectively with customers Describe the difference between hearing and listening.

What is hearing?
Hearing is an action in which, just the sound is perceived by the ear, and it requires no or very little concentration. Very little or no effort is required as your mind is occupied in other thoughts or perhaps you are engaged in a different task while the other person is sharing his or her thoughts with you. Words spoken are just heard. This is a passive process.

What is listening?
Listening is an action where you choose to actively concentrate on what you hear and your brain processes the information into knowledge. You need to put in a lot of effort in terms of attention, processing, thinking, analysing and concentrating. You do not think about anything else, or get engaged in any other tasks, but you sit down and listen to what the speaker is saying, word by word. You look into the feeling and meaning of what is being said. Words spoken are listened to and processed. This is an active process.

Difference between hearing and listening:
Hearing: We always hear something around us all the time and it is just a physical ability. For example, while you are at home, you might hear the sound of other people talking, sound of cooking in the kitchen, sound of television, and sound of anything that is happening around. While you are at work, depending on where you work, you hear the sound of various things around you. While on the road you hear the sound of traffic and any events in the public, the people laughing, talking, shouting etc. And, at the end of the day, after you go to bed and fall asleep, you hear sounds even while you sleep. All these happen around you and you do not necessarily see the incidents. It is just sound waves reaching your ears. Hearing is an alarm system which operates even outside of the line of sight. This also applies to music. Nowadays music is played everywhere, in shopping malls, in restaurants, in supermarkets, in offices and everywhere. It puts people in a situation where they just hear this music as every other noise around them. Not all of us listen to that music and acquire anything from it. People lose the chance of acquiring any skills from it and in a way it devalues music. Most people use music to just fill the silence while they are doing other tasks. Listening When you need to listen, you need to pay attention, because you need to interpret and respond in the end. Listening is a skill which is diminishing and this can be due to advancement in digital technology, not wanting to concentrate or too much of information to handle. Listening is a skill that can be improved with a little bit of hard work, dedication and determination. Everywhere and in every relationship we come across this complaining phrase quite often, “You never listen” or “You do not want to listen”. As Ernest Hemingway quotes, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” A typical example that we come across in our day to day life is, people reading something on the internet and responding to the speaker / trying to listen to someone, or typing something on the computer, eyes on the screen and an ear listening to the other person or texting on the mobile and responding to someone who is talking to you. These are common scenarios we come across in offices and personal lives almost every day. These behaviours clearly indicate that the listener is behaving in an awful manner, not respecting the other and indirectly this tells the speaker that they are less important than the work that the listener is doing. This puts the speaker in an awful situation and makes them feel inferior.

Listening Well Why do people find it hard to listen?
Very few people have refined the ability to hear into a skill or an art that is called listening. People fail to listen for many reasons. Some of them can be,

” Source: ocw.northwestern. so your mind is occupied and not paying attention Rushing through everything and not wanting to sit down for a few minutes to listen to others Feeling awkward about what the speaker said   Stephen R Covey quotes. they listen with the intent to reply.au Benefits of listening:         You are appreciated if you listen with full concentration Accomplish better results quicker Helps to build a better relationship.        Expecting others to say things that they love to hear Not open to listening to what others say Not interested in their situation or how they feel Not bothered about how the other person feels Lacking patience to sit down and listen Thinking that one is superior than the rest and that they are always right Tending to be defensive Preparing for the response even before the other person has finished. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand.com.tufts.edu Source: cleverclassroom.edu Source: soc. be it professional or personal You gain more customers or clients as you are genuinely interested to serve them Improves the quality of the company / organisation You make a difference in people’s life and mind You get to know customers / clients better and understand their needs It helps you get into the very heart of their problems / issues .

Hearing Listening It is a physical ability and It is a skill and is a not a conscious act conscious act (Physiological) (Psychological) Is listening intentionally Is hearing randomly and analysing Everyone hears unless there is a physical Not everyone listens disability Making an effort to hear Perceiving sound by the and it involves reception. 7.A Summary S. . the five senses which is seeing and sometimes hearing the sense of touch too Observing the behaviour Receiving sound and adding meaning to vibrations what the speaker says Passive Active 4. The only similarity between hearing and listening is that you do both with the aid of ears. interpretation and response Involuntary Voluntary You just hear sound and You understand what is noise but do not being said or heard understand much Does not need focus Needs focus and care Hearing uses only one of Listening uses hearing. 3. 6. 2. 1. No. 9.          It helps to provide better service and produce better results Customer / client expectations are met Shows that we respect acknowledge and care for them It delights customers / clients and shows that we are empathetic You learn new information You can deal with people easily Everyone likes people who listen Helps you develop leadership and management skills Helps one to be successful in life / career by performing up to their expectations Avoids misunderstandings and conflicts Effective Listening Skills Hearing Vs Listening . 10. ear analysis. 5. 8.

and the psychological appeal of the message. Relationship: This type of listening refers to the improvement of relationships among people. occupational therapists. In forming an opinion or making a decision based on a message. C. Types Of Listening: A) Informative: In this type. tutors. Appreciative: This type of listening refers to the listening we do for the pure enjoyment of it. it’s important to pay attention to the speaker and to be supportive: to keep the message in confidence and to not be judgmental. So it is always good to improve your listening skills and be a better listener and a better human. we are most of the time around people who want to be listened. listening is a form of relaxation. and memorization skills. We spend money on cassettes. concentration. nurses. counselors journalists. It’s also important to glean whether the speaker wants you to suggest a solution or simply to listen. In this type of listening. music style. . CDs. It’s the kind of listening where the listener allows the speaker to “vent. In an office and home environment. Many of us also enjoy a good comedy act. for example doctors. listeners should hone their vocabulary. Almost all professions require listening skills at some point or the other. we pay attention to three things: the speaker’s credibility. advisers etc. or comic. the logic of the argument.Listening is very important when it comes to customer services and other professions where you have to listen to people at all times. we may make a poor decision or no decision at all.” to talk out a problem or situation. In this type. B. D. teachers. and concerts. If one of those areas is lacking. we listen to form an opinion or make a decision. Critical Listening: In this type. the listener is primarily concerned with understanding the message. In order to be more successful. but we listen because we like the musician. The message of the song or routine may not be of importance to us. as well as much time listening to the radios in our cars because we enjoy music. interviewers.

At times.E.  But just as our attention is selective. Understanding  It is the stage at which you learn what the speaker means-the thoughts and emotional tone. .what is remembered may be quite different from what was originally seen or heard. it is physical response. as Dr.  Often this evaluation process goes on without much conscious awareness. It can mean the ability to pick out the electric guitar from the bass in a song or to filter words from static on the radio. Kline has said. Responding  This stage requires that the receiver complete the process through verbal and/or nonverbal feedback. to get to the bottom of the message. Discriminative: This is not excluding speakers based on any trait. Evaluating  It consists of judging the messages in some way. Remembering  It is important listening process because it means that an individual has not only received and interpreted a message but has also added it to the mind's storage bank. is the foundation to all other types of listening because we can use it to infer both the speakers’ message and their intentions. you may try to evaluate the speaker’s underlying intentions or motives. because the speaker has no other way to determine if a message has been received . What we mean by discriminative listening is the ability to identify and filter verbal and non-verbal cues. This type of listening. Receiving  It refers to the response caused by sound waves stimulating the sensory receptors of the ear. so too is our memory.

requires more concentration. a smile. Listening is more important because it helps you socialise and also get along with everyone if in a professional environment.listening with attention to details that give you clues to the speaker’s emotion or state of mind Empathic listening. expected to retain info.” . requires little mental involvement Listening for information. It shows people that you are interacting with them and that you appreciate and give importance to their thoughts and feelings.listening for information as well as analyzing and evaluating it Precision listening.easiest of all (music. just think for a moment. retention. Give them your best. TV. when we speak to someone. a kind word. an honest compliment. This stage becomes the only overt means by which the sender may determine the degree of success in transmitting the message. requires concentration. It also shows that you are polite. Purpose:     Listening for enjoyment. or the smallest act of caring. radio).highest level. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch. You cooperate with the other person and make decisions easily without any errors. Critical listening. and judgment as well as empathy  Why is listening more important than hearing? If one needs to understand the importance of listening. Leo Buscaglia quotes. what do we expect them to do? How do we expect them to react? Treat others the same way you wish yourself to be treated. Listeners understand better and are more productive. all of which have the potential to turn a life around. You know what is expected of you and you are able to resolve issues by arriving at good decisions. People in general avoid bad listeners. a listening ear.

back channeling cues such as “I see” “yes” “uh-huh” etc  Listening without talking  Powerful means of communicating acceptance  Passive listener: suspends judgment and just listens  Who accepts. not intrude Empathic-Objective listening  To listen empathically  Feel with them  See the world as they see  Feel what they feel  It helps you understand what a person means & what the person is feeling  Listen with objectivity and detachment  See beyond other person sees . not evaluate. Who supports.Participatory-Passive listening  Active participation  Physically & mentally engage in the sharing of meaning Elements Non-Verbal: Eye contact. facial expressions Verbal: questions.

“draw Mohammad day” & “switch to Pakbuk” Surface-Depth listening  Obvious/surface/literal meaning  (Surface level communication)  What they are saying? . national.g.Example: A teacher & student  (Empathic)  (Objective) (1+1 = 11) (1+1 = 2) Non judgmental. use phrase “dentists advice”  Bandwagon.use image associated to with person to gain approval. (if you respect the person) to gain rejection (if you disrespect the person) e.Critical listening  Listen with open mind  Avoid distorting messages  Avoid filtering out unpleasant or undesirable message  Recognize your own ethnic. like (“democracy” “free speech” “academic freedom”)  Testimonial. (“atheist” “neo-Nazi” “cult”) to make you accept things you value high. or religious biases. (it may increase or minimize importance because it confirms or contradicts your biases)  Name calling. advertisement: use person dressed like doctors.involves giving an idea e.g.used to persuade to accept or reject an idea because “everybody is doing it” e.g.

a poor listener will disagree mentally and think about a rebuttal.they will think about a party from last weekend or an upcoming camping trip. The effective listener will wait until the speaker is totally finished with hir or her statement before making an evaluation or judgement prior to responding. deep meaning  (In depth communication)  Why they are saying?  E. It is intrusive and disruptive. If the speaker is being paid to present information to you.g. Daydreaming effectively closes down the possibility of retaining information. Mentally Arguing with the Speaker Instead of listening to what someone is saying. Instead of focusing on the speaker and attempting to learn something -. People will actually play out a complete argument in their own mind at the same time they should be paying attention to what the other person is really trying to say. Granted. it’s always good manners to remember that listening is just as important as talking. most of us feel more involved and active when we are talking. This kind of mental arguing is very damaging to the communication process and will often lead to misunderstanding and conflicts between people. Even so. Hidden. This includes talking loudly to others in the audience. Desire to Talk The most common barrier to effective listening is jumping into a conversation before the other person has finished. time and money is being wasted.: “The patient is very serious” Barriers to Effective Listening Daydreaming Many people daydream when they are supposed to be listening.or even mentally composing a response to what is being said -. . This is conversational bad manners.

or doesn’t match with the mental image you had conjured up. They provided the background you need to improve your listening skills. Negative Reaction to the Speaker ’s Appearance or Delivery Style Some listeners are quick to find fault. . You can learn to listen effectively. look now at the components of that learning: thinking. different. any fault. 2. doesn’t mean that the message will be ineffective or unrewarding.you may be surprised at what you learn. Because someone appears odd. Good listeners try to find useful information in any presentation or message. What you do about listening. How to Be an Effective Listener The first four chapters discussed the need for effective listening. While there are many ways to construct a list of suggestions. doing. 3. we will consider them in terms of what works best in three major categories: 1. It offers practical suggestions on how to be a better listener. voice. the process of listening. a speaker ’s looks are totally different from that implied by the sound of the voice.” applies here. Keep an open mind when listening to people -. This happens frequently with radio personalities. This tendency to hasty judgement makes it difficult to concentrate on the message the speaker is trying to deliver. What you feel about listening. fallacies about listening. This chapter is a prescriptive one. How does the saying go? Deal with it. “you can’t judge a book by its cover. What you think about listening. or mannerisms. with the speaker ’s dress. and the types of listening. A good way to increase listening effectiveness is to maintain a positive attitude about the speaker and really work at listening for useful information. The old adage. A listener with a negative attitude about the message or the speaker will have a tough time being effective as a listener.Lack of Interest Lack of interest in the speaker ’s topic does create a difficult situation. Often. feeling.

2. Knowing that the process involves more than just receiving messages will help you focus on not just receiving. Knowing the fallacies about listening can keep you from being trapped by them. But there is no other way to become an effective listener. mid-term. and work to understand them. . Preparation consists of three phases—long-term. But listening is a complex activity. your listening skills do not improve through continued exposure to them. We said earlier that becoming an effective listener is a lifetime endeavor. we don’t work very hard at improving. and doing go hand in hand. sermons. Effective listening doesn’t just happen. in other words. Mid-term preparation for listening requires that you do the necessary background study before the listening begins.What You Think about Listening Although thinking. and types of listening. and short-term. and its complexity explains the emphasis given in previous chapters to understanding the fallacies. But there are two things you can do to improve your listening skills for the long term: (a) practice listening to difficult material and (b) build your vocabulary. Therefore. Here are six suggestions. expanding your listening ability will be an ongoing task. Prepare to Listen. Since most of today’s radio and television programs do not require concentrated or careful listening. And you have to stretch if you want to grow. prebriefs. Think about the complexities of listening. Recognizing the five major types of listening will help you to consciously direct your energies toward the type of listening required for the circumstance of the moment. Understand the complexities of listening. Listening requires an active response. Background papers. the better listener you will become. feeling. And the more words you learn. lectures. Force yourself to listen carefully to congressional debates. Most of us take good listening for granted. it takes thought—and thinking can be hard work. 1. or other material that requires concentration. not a passive one. Building your vocabulary will improve your conversational skills and your reading skills as well as your listening skills. the thinking (or cognitive) domain of learning is perhaps the best place to begin. Too many people simply do not challenge their listening ability. After all. and an advance look at a hard copy (or an electronic display) of briefing slides or charts will assist you in being ready to listen. processes. but the other components as well. effective listening takes effort—it requires maximum thinking power.

the message—all change. Others boast. rapport with the speaker. some of these things will have a positive effect on your listening while others will have a negative effect. but you missed the point. “I listen only for the facts. The time. . or thinking about some unrelated subject. Obviously. Generalizations. Adjust to the situation! 4. and you may be able to adjust to the situation—yet you fail as a listener. B. endurance. and physical factors such as size and color of the room. they may actually miss the main ideas. No listening situation is exactly the same as another. comfort. Focus on ideas or key points. This failure results because you didn’t listen to the right things. For example.” Things change. the speaker. However. A thick foreign accent. being aware of the barriers and thinking about how to overcome them can help you improve the situation. and C may be interesting in their own right. Good listeners—really good listeners—are in the “spring-loaded position to listen. though less obviously so: physiological variables such as rest. Adjust to the situation. you may remember a funny story the speaker told to make a point. Facts A. you can do your most effective job as a listener. knowledge of the subject.” By concentrating exclusively on individual supporting facts.Short-term preparation may be defined as an immediate readiness to listen. Good listeners are never trapped into thinking that any communication transaction or listening situation is exactly like any other. reading a letter from home. and the subject of the previous speaker—all may present special barriers to effective listening. are usually most important. you may have prepared well. you may understand the process. At times. But many other variables also affect listening. The Grecian philosopher Heraclitus said it well: “You can’t step into the same stream twice. you should open your ears. poor grammar. When the speaker’s mouth opens. but the speaker’s reason for offering them is usually to develop a generalization from them. 3. By thinking about the unique factors of the situation. That is not the time to be hunting for a pen. not facts. psychological variables such as emotional stability.” It is important to prepare to listen. a room with poor acoustics. hunger.

you can arrange the material in your mind or in your notes as it’s being presented. And if questions are appropriate. Effective listening requires hard thinking. Interestingly. questioning is not permitted or. perhaps due to time constraints or the size of the audience. In bursts of enthusiasm. they use the time differential to good advantage. significant loss in listening and learning. as when listening for directions to someone’s house or memorizing a mathematical formula.In studies conducted some years ago at the University of New Mexico. it is usually best to focus on ideas or key points. especially to large audiences. Experiments in which listening time is cut in half—an hour lecture is listened to in half the time—reveal little. Often. This is not the case with good listeners. This type of time usage may explain why top listeners at the Air War College recently reported that they learned more from lectures than from any other method of instruction. we may even speak a little faster. This will help you understand and . depending on the nature and difficulty of the material. if any. Thought can operate much faster than speech. I discovered that students who did best on all but rote memory examinations were those who listened for key points and ideas. Organize material for learning. While there are some exceptions. but without the distortions normally associated with fast forwarding a tape or simply playing a tape or record at a faster speed. They have learned to capitalize on the speed differential. Most public speakers speak somewhat slower. Capitalize on the speed differential. those who attempted to memorize minute details did only slightly better on low-level rote memory exams than the individuals who focused on ideas—and they did much worse when long-term retention was the criterion. listeners are ready for a break because there is no time for their minds to wander. anticipate. Compression is accomplished through systematic removal of small segments— so small that distortion is not noticed by listeners. What can you do? Remembering that the speed differential exists. Yet most listeners can process up to 500 words per minute. The results of these experiments point to the possibility of capitalizing on the speed differential. the differential between speed of thought and speed of speech promotes daydreaming or concentrating on something other than what is being said. however. 5. speakers can enhance listening through careful organization and presentation of ideas. however. Obviously. They summarize. is inappropriate. I have a machine that compresses speech on tape. you can seek clarification of any points you fail to understand. and formulate questions based on the speaker’s message. Admittedly. An average person may speak two or three words a second—120 to 180 words a minute. Unfortunately. especially if the material is challenging. 6.

that is. You can prepare yourself to retain the information to be presented by asking these questions: What point is the speaker trying to make? What main ideas should I remember? How does this information relate to what I already know? Reorganizing the material you need to learn. The reason? Probably. I protest that I am really listening. hurries the discussion. Whatever the case. And at still other times. The visitor usually becomes uneasy. yet found it to have been profitable. Here are six suggestions for improving your “feel” for listening. what you feel about listening is important. Individuals often stop by my office and ask if they can talk for a few minutes. Want to listen. although there are exceptions. you made up your mind to listen. fiddling with a paper clip. since you were there. In other words. or thought.” You know what? He was right! What You Feel about Listening We began by discussing what you think about listening because effective listening requires rigorous cognitive processing. Always look for how the information relates to what you already know and what you need to know. And listening under duress seldom results in understanding or enjoyment. We can all recall having been forced to listen to a speech or a briefing that we didn’t really want to listen to. This suggestion is basic to all others. It is easier to simply “tune out. or seeking clarification on a directive. that is. 1.” see the relevance of some required classes to my course of study. requires concentrated thinking. you will value all learning. they involve your feelings about listening. you may be unaware that you don’t want to listen. Sometimes you don’t want to listen. and offers to come back another time. and you will always find something. you decided to make the best of the situation. . Perhaps you have attended a meeting or a social event out of a sense of duty. When that happens.remember it later. But possession of the sharpest mind will not make you a good listener if your feelings are wrong. All three of these situations are affective or attitudinal.” There was a time in my early college years when I could not. someday you will come to understand that all information is part of a large mosaic or universe of knowledge. if I am not meeting with someone else or working against a deadline. your actions may indicate that you don’t want to listen when you really do. or looking at my guest with a blank stare. But I must honestly admit that my mind sometimes wanders and I find myself looking at phone messages. Perhaps they are seeking advice. At other times. “for the life of me. telling about a project. for it simply says that you must have an intent to listen. and seeking relationships between the new material and what you already know. I invite them in. A professor for whom I had great respect explained it to me this way: “John.

his conscience was bothering him and his family had stressed honesty and openness. There are times when you must be a critical or judgmental listener.” Delaying judgment and judging the content rather than the speaker will lead to better listening and more honest communication. You must want to listen. A boy who was one month shy of being 16 decided to confess to his father that he had driven the family car on the previous night. suppose you have had three bad experiences with people from Chicago and you learn that the speaker you have come to hear is from Chicago. “Son. He decided to tell his father. It is difficult—indeed. For example. The problem comes when we let our biases—our likes and dislikes—get in the way of understanding the speaker’s message. So he made the decision to take her even though he did not yet have a driver’s license. I am proud of you for three reasons: you got your sister to gymnastics rehearsal. You must weigh the merits of what the speaker is saying. The problem is. There are also times when you must judge the speaker. and it was the night of her final rehearsal before a performance. His younger sister’s promised ride to gymnastics class hadn’t arrived. An ancient Turkish proverb says. Admit your biases. You may have . and you are my son. his father became furious. nearly impossible—to really listen if you don’t have a mind to. and he failed to consider that the boy had taken it upon himself to confess. My emotions got the best of me. Still. They need only to consider the messenger in ancient Rome who paid with his life for bringing bad news. speech contests—all are examples of where judgment of the speaker is important. But. You were wrong to drive the car because you broke the law. frankly. 3. campaign promises. He scarcely heard the reason. though. Upon hearing that the boy had taken the car. These characteristics are natural and to be expected.” Supervisors often wonder why people in their organization won’t level with them. I acted hastily. You may judge the speaker instead of the content. Job interviews. At times. you were honest about it. Delay judgment. Let’s face it: Everyone is human! We all have likes and dislikes.but my actions betray me. He was also quite sure that he hadn’t been seen and would never be found out. or you may form judgments before the speaker has finished. 2. some things turn us on. you must make crucial decisions based on what you hear. He told the boy that the act would delay his getting a driver’s license by two months. “messenger with bad news should keep one foot in the stirrup. others turn us off. that you may be judgmental when you shouldn’t be. Then the father rethought the situation and said.

Only by admitting your prejudice against people from Chicago will you be able to think beyond your past experience and listen effectively to what this speaker has to say. Don’t tune out “dry” subjects. it is probably too late to ask the speaker to repeat everything that was said. you must intend to listen. Effective listeners have discovered the value of listening to messages they might have initially considered to be “dry. you must know and admit your biases.a tendency to immediately distrust him. 4. Before you reject the above example as irrelevant. Whenever you are tempted to “tune out” something because you think it will be boring or useless. Here are several things you can do to stay focused. Constantly ask yourself positive questions about what the speaker is saying: How can I use this information? How can I share this information with others? What else could be said about this subject? d. ask “what’s in this message for me?” Then find the answer. Ask yourself.” Sometimes the messages aren’t so dry after all. Put yourself in the speaker’s place. remember that you cannot evaluate the importance of the message until you have heard it. the opportunity to listen effectively will have passed. You knew the sickness was caused by a virus and not the food. there still may be something of value in them. In a similar way. Find at least one major application or conclusion from every message you hear. f. Try to summarize the message as the speaker would summarize it. a. Try to see the speaker’s point of view. In other words. but it was quite a while before that food again tasted good to you. bias from past experience can influence what you hear and the meaning you derive from it. By then. consider a time in your past when you got sick after eating a certain food. . And even when they are. b. Review frequently what the speaker has said. If you want to be an effective listener. c. even if the subject seems dry. As was stated earlier. or to discredit whatever he has to say. Listen as though you are going to be required to present the same message to a different audience later. and try to understand the speaker’s attitude toward the subject. “What does the speaker know that I don’t?” e.

6. Ask questions. Empathize with the speaker. share information with the speaker. Give positive feedback. Put yourself in the speaker’s place. What You Do about Listening What we think about listening and what we feel about listening are both fundamental to skillful listening. Positive head nods.5. alertness. You can’t listen if you’re talking. And they believe the responsibility rests with the one doing the pouring. f. This point applies to those situations in which you find yourself “one-on-one. Look and act interested. Accept responsibility for understanding. Skills form the psychomotor—the “doing”—element of listening. If the information is sensitive. e. Stop talking.” Such listeners believe knowledge can be poured into them as water is poured into a jug. But good listeners are good because they accept the responsibility for listening and understanding. And the speaker’s clear organization. Encourage others to talk. Questions that show interest and attention encourage both speaker and listener. But the skills themselves are crucial. they believe it is the speaker’s fault if effective listening does not occur. or any other setting that requires exchanges of vocal communication. Show your interest. The first two guidelines of this section (communicating that you want to listen and being willing to delay judgment) are sources of encouragement to speakers. that is. a. don’t share it with others. d. But you can’t listen if no one is talking. this will help you understand the message. Admittedly. engaging support materials. Here are six crucial skills. and appropriate delivery do in fact aid listening. So if you want the speaker to share information with you. We tend to tell things to those who tell us things. and smiles—all offer encouragement to the speaker. b.” in a small group discussion. . Keep confidences. the basic assumption in Speaking Effectively: A Guide for Air Force Speakers is that the speaker bears a large responsibility for how well the audience listens. c. The discussion below covers several other things you can do. Share information. Don’t assume this attitude: “Here I am! Teach me—if you can.

Resist the temptation to let something about the room. Speakers sometimes exhibit a visual aid too soon. d. it will help you organize what the speaker is saying. In most cases. and facial expression are often an important part of the message. distract you. it is also important for the other kinds of listening: informative. f. And it may even aid your understanding and retention—after all. the better you will listen. the better eye contact you have with the speaker. Taking notes will not only help you remember. e. Focus on the visual aid only when it is an asset to the point being discussed. Take notes effectively. or even to leave the room. which in turn allows drowsiness to occur. Don’t look at others who enter or leave while the speaker is speaking. A final point deserves discussion: Never sleep when someone is talking to you! This point may seem self-evident.1. 2. Passivity promotes reduced attention. or neglect to remove it when they have finished using it. And while eye contact is especially important in relationship listening. In one-on-one or small group settings. Establish eye contact with the speaker. b. effective note taking will require you to think. . The speaker’s gestures. movements. You can more easily establish eye contact with the speaker from this vantage point. There are several things you can do to establish positive eye contact with the speaker: a. c. But let’s face it—in the “busyness” of our lives. Some people recommend that you not take notes so you can focus your attention wholly on what the speaker is saying. appreciative. most of us aren’t. sit or stand where you can look directly at the person doing the speaking. Studies show that listening has a positive relationship with eye contact. Focus on the speaker and the message. sit to the front and center of the audience. we tend to become passive whenever we listen. critical. rather than fall asleep. Don’t get so involved in taking notes that you fail to look often at the speaker. This practice not only interrupts your train of thought—it adds to the distraction of the speaker. discriminative. or objects within and around the room. In other words. In large groups. it is better to stand up. This practice works well for listeners who are blessed with a great memory.

d. head nods. You have also seen that making eye contact and taking notes will help to keep you from becoming passive. If the speaker moves. If not. Be a physically involved listener. and key word methodology. and tilts of the head show your involvement and provide positive feedback to the speaker.There are many different ways to take notes. d. c. Here are some physical behaviors that will ensure your involvement and help your listening. Use your hands not only to take notes. Write clearly enough that you can understand your writing later. Use good posture. make certain that you allow time to decipher your notes before they grow “cold. effective listeners focus on the key ideas or main points. several things are worth considering. Ask questions. Sit up straight. . Follow the speaker. Be an active listener. turn your head or rotate in your chair to maintain eye contact and attention. listening requires more than just hearing. linear outlining.” It’s disheartening to review your notes two weeks later only to find that they make no sense. c. Don’t rely on listening later to a tape of the speech. 3. As mentioned earlier. Facial expressions. a. Circle or highlight the most important points. Ask different people what method they use. and is much more timeefficient than listening to the entire speech again. Don’t be a deadpan. Respond when a show of hands is called for. Think! Will you have the time? Looking at your notes for five minutes is generally sufficient. Whatever method you select or devise. but to show approval by applause when appropriate. a. b. Participate when audience involvement is encouraged. e. yet comfortably. Don’t attempt to write everything down. This movement also aids in keeping you alert. Just what does this statement mean? As you have already seen. for example. But there is more: Active listening takes energy and involvement. It also communicates positive interest to the speaker. Good posture aids breathing and alertness. then find what works best for you. b. mindmapping.

make a mental note to do it more often. Exposure to challenging material and difficult listening situations will stretch your ability and build your listening muscles. The difficulty of the message is also important. you . For example. Everyone has mannerisms. But consistent practice in itself is not enough. Here are some examples of listener mannerisms that either hinder listening or have a negative impact—on the speaker or on other listeners. Just as an athlete must work out regularly and a musician must practice daily. balancing a checkbook. Continually looking at the clock or your watch. The effect on you may be neutral. These should be avoided. Such things hinder the speaker. If your mannerisms do not cause a negative reaction. any mannerism or behavior that detracts from the speaker or the message should be avoided. tapping a pencil. and prevent you from being the best listener you can be. With this kind of practice. d. Exercise your listening muscles. but such things distract other listeners and are an annoyance to the speaker. Fidgeting. If a mannerism is positive or encouraging and brings a positive response. Avoid these mannerisms. divert the attention of other listeners. don’t worry about them. In short. You would practice by carrying at least a 50-pound weight. or lack of interest in the speaker and message. Reading a paper. c. superiority. there are no muscles technically involved with listening—but this thought reminds us that listening takes practice. Displays of arrogance. a. and you probably would condition yourself to carry it more than 100 yards in less than a minute. or engaging in other behavior which takes focus away from the speaker. 5. Smile.f. 4. so you must work consistently to be an effective listener. Unfortunately. Watch anyone for a period of time and you will be convinced of this fact. Avoid negative mannerisms. Actually. or playing with a rubber band or some other object. some mannerisms are negative or distracting. suppose you knew that you would be required to carry a 50-pound weight one hundred yards in less than a minute. rearranging items in your wallet. You wouldn’t practice by carrying a 30-pound weight. b.

The effective listener is always other directed. or jot them down as you listen so you can look up the meanings later. There are times when we should not delay judgment—we must act! But while these and other rules have exceptions.would be more than equal to the task. . Listen to and read material that contains challenging words. Look up new words as you read them.” There are exceptions to most other listening rules. Keep a dictionary nearby. Follow the Golden Rule. Be the kind of listener you want others to be when you are talking. Finally. And so it is with listening: Practice to at least the level you will be required to perform—perhaps a bit above. We’ve said this before. “s-t-r-e-t-c-h” your vocabulary. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The central focus of all effective communication is “other directedness. but to listen for subordinate ideas or supporting material. preparation may prevent openness to new ideas. There are times when the objective is not to focus on key points. Ask “How would I want others to listen to me?” That’s how to be an effective listener. For example. Learn the meanings of new words and acronyms. not so for the Golden Rule. but nothing will pay greater listening dividends. focused on the other person. 6. there are times when a listener shouldn’t prepare.