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Participant Workbook

Prepared By

The Art Of Listening

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and to be understood. The best
way to understand people is to listen to them
Ralph Nichols (considered the father in the field of listening)
When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

All I ask is that you listen.
Don't talk or do - just hear me.
Advice is cheap - 20 cents will get you both
Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince you
and get about this business of understanding
what's behind this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear, the answers are obvious
and I don't need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense
when we understand what's behind them.
Perhaps that's why prayer works - sometimes for some people, because God is mute.
and he doesn't give advice or try to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.
So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn,
and I will listen to you.

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Table of Contents

Objectives Of The Workshop ..................................................................................... 4

How Good A Listener Are You? .................................................................................. 5
Hearing versus listening ............................................................................................. 7
Barriers to listening .................................................................................................... 8
Active listening......................................................................................................... 11

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Objectives Of The Workshop

After this workshop you should be able to:
1. Understand the difference between listening and hearing
2. Become aware of the types of listening
3. Understand the six steps to effective listening
Speaking is very important, however without listening, the right message might never be sent.
Research shows that we spend approximately 60 percent of our time listening to others. When HR
executives were asked to identify skills of an ideal manager, the ability to listen ranked highest of
all- more than technical competence, computer know how, creativity or administrative talent.
Listening is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well
- John Marshall
A skill, as defined in a dictionary, is a learned ability to do something competently: It is a
developed aptitude or ability. The skill of listening is a skill that everyone should have something
that most people think they have and wish that everyone else would.
According to scholars in the field of listening, Listening is the process of receiving, constructing
meaning from, and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages"
There seems to be a growing realization of the importance of solid listening and communication
skills in business. After all, lack of attention and respectful listening can be costly - leading to
mistakes, poor service, misaligned goals, wasted time and lack of teamwork.
This is why all of our coaching programs start with a foundation of listening skills. You cant sell
unless you understand your customers problem; you cant manage unless you understand your
employees motivation; and you cant gain team consensus unless you understand each team
members feelings about the issue at hand. In all of these cases, you must listen to others.
Agenda of the workshop:

Introduction and pre test

Differentiating between hearing and listening
Barriers to listening
Types of listening
Six steps to effective listening

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How Good A Listener Are You?

Read the following 20 statements and rate yourself on a scale of 1-4. This test is intended solely
for developing awareness of your listening skills. There is no right number, it is meant as an eye
opener. Please be honest in your appraisal of yourself.
(1 Rarely, 2 Sometimes, 3 Most of the time, 4 All the time)

I attempt to give every person I talk with, the opportunity to express what
they want to say


I enjoy listening to what other people have to say


I do not have difficulty waiting until someone finishes talking


I listen even when I do not particularly like the person talking


The gender and age of a person makes no difference in how well I listen


I assume every person has something worthwhile to say and listen intently
to friends, acquaintances and strangers alike


I put away what I am doing while someone is talking

I always look directly at the person who is talking and give the person my
full attention no matter what is on my mind
I encourage others to talk by giving them verbal feedback and asking them
open and close ended questions
I encourage others to talk by my non-verbal messages such as gestures,
facial expressions and posture

11. I immediately ask for clarification of words and ideas I do not understand

I am sensitive to the tone of the speakers voice, expressions and gestures

that convey meaning.

13. I do not interrupt a person who is talking


I withhold all judgments and opinions about what a person is saying until I
have heard it all
I listen past the words to the feelings and meanings the person is expressing
and test to see if I am understanding correctly
I make mental outlines of the main points of what a person is saying
I respect every persons right to his / her own opinion, even if I disagree with
that opinion, or do not like that person
I view every dispute or conflict as an opportunity to understand the person
I recognize that listening is a skill and I concentrate on trying to develop this
skill in my daily life.
Wherever possible I take down notes of important points of the
conversation and review them with the speaker at the end of the

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If your score is 61 or above: You are a very good listener.

If your score is between 50 and 60: You are a reasonably good listener, but need to work more on
your listening skills.
If your score is less than 50: you need to really work on your listening skills, friend!

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Hearing versus listening

Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Hearing simply happens. Listening is something
you consciously choose to do. Listening leads to learning
The difference is in hearing the words as opposed to listening for the message.
Identify responses in the following scenarios as hearing or listening:
You are lost and ask for directions and a stranger says go right while pointing
Your close friend is crying into her pillow and you think she should forget it and be
You are in some trouble and someone who you trust is offering help.__________________
Your spouse is being playful and describing her/ his day when you are tired and have had a
long day.___________
The lawyer is asking you questions in a court case._____________

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Barriers to listening
1. Noise:
a. Situational noise - Audible noise may be extremely distracting. Some things can be

minimized e.g., turn down the ringer on your phone, and the email beep on the
computer while meeting with someone. Other noises may be unavoidable e.g.,
construction, other people. Also, there may be figurative noise from the external
environment, such as distracting or inappropriate decor in a room, or environmental
conditions such as the room being too hot or cold.
b. Semantic noise - Certain words, labels or stereotypes that a speaker uses could work as
triggers to stop us from hearing what is actually being said. . Political correctness seems to
be a perennial example; we pay attention to, and sometimes get distracted by, racial,
gender, class or political words that are highly charged. It is the negative stereotype we
usually pay attention to, but a good listener tries to see past and listen for more than
simplistic generalizations.
c. Intrapersonal noise Anything that interferes with our attention or gets in the way of
understanding what someone is trying to say. Without attention, or focused reception,
listening is not very effective. So a listener whose mind is wandering or who fails to
concentrate on the speaker only makes listening less effective. We should concentrate on
the ideas and thoughts of the speaker and not get distracted by our own monologues or
interior noise. If we are daydreaming while someone is speaking we will miss parts of what
is being said.

2. Physical discomfort: Feeling physically unwell or experiencing pain can make it very difficult
to listen effectively. You may wish to communicate that this is not a good time, and reschedule
the discussion. Otherwise, you may just need to concentrate even more on the task of listening

3. Physiological barriers: Some people may have genuine hearing problems or deficiencies
that prevent them from hearing well. Others may have processing difficulties or memory related
problems which make them poor listeners.

4. Information overload: Too much stimulation or information can make it very difficult to
listen with full attention. Try to focus on the relevant information, and the central points that are
being conveyed.

5. Stereotyping and generalizing: Be careful not to hold on to preconceptions about people

or things. We often have a tendency to see what we want to see, forming an impression from a
small amount of information or one experience, and assuming that to be highly representative of
the whole person or situation.

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6. Assuming similar interpretations: Not everyone will draw the same conclusions from a
given situation or set of information. Everybody interprets things differently. Make sure to check
for other peoples interpretations, and be explicit about your own.

7. Experiencing incongruent cues: As speakers, and as listeners, we are constantly and

simultaneously sending cues and receiving them from other people. Your verbal cues and your
body language have to be consistent. Saying one thing and expressing something else through
your body language leads to confusion. If someone else seems to be sending a double message -by saying one thing and expressing something else in their body language -- ask for clarification.

8. Language: Words do not contain absolute meaning, in themselves. It is dependent on the

context, tone, and the understanding of the speaker. Though the differences in perception of
individual words are small, put together, it can cause a lot of misunderstanding. Another barrier is
accents natural to the speaker. Words when pronounced differently can draw attention away
from what is being said. Also difficult words, jargon or phrases that are particular to a social group
cause difficulties in listening.

9. Cultural barriers: Cultural differences can cause differences in perception. Culture provides
people with ways of thinking, seeing hearing and interpreting their worlds. There are world views
that one culture can hold, into which information is automatically put. Also, there are behavioral
restraints which affect both verbal and non verbal expressions. Cultural sensitivity improves ability
to listen and comprehend well.

10. Prejudging: This occurs when listening stops due to disagreement with what is being said,
mode of presenting or the person speaking. Different points of value or beliefs do not necessarily
mean that someone is wrong. A dislike for the speaker need not translate into discrediting all his
or her ideas and opinions.

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Types of listening
1. Ignoring listening: The listener entirely ignores the message as well as the message giver.
He/she might just be pretending to listen while doing or thinking something else. This can
be very damaging because the listeners lack of participation becomes evident through the
body language. The speaker might feel snubbed or hurt, which might further lead to a total
break-down of communication.
2. Selective listening: Listening to parts of the conversation while ignoring most of it. This is
the kind of listening we practice to repeated TV news.
3. Competitive listening: happens when we are more interested in promoting our own point
of view rather than understanding anothers. The objective then becomes finding the
flaws and the weak points in others points or finding openings to take the floor. There is
the pretension of listening while internally we formulate rebuttal or comebacks that can
make us the victor
4. Attentive listening: There is no selective dismissal. The listener listens to the speaker
completely, attentively, without ignoring any part of the speech.
5. Active or reflective listening, which becomes the most useful listening skill. In active
listening we are also genuinely interested in understanding what the other person is
saying, feeling and thinking. We become active in checking our understanding of what the
message means. Restating, paraphrasing and reflecting messages serve this purpose. This
is what makes it effective.

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Active listening
Six steps to effective listening
1. Intentionality being committed to the speaker, questioning that shows commitment.
2. Setting the stage- ensuring that there are no distractions
3. Focus - with the intent of listening to the ideas, sequence of ideas and to what is not being
said, labelling emotions when appropriate.
4. To put aside assumptions To wait for the other to complete and then to clarify what has
been understood
5. Ok I see Verbal nods to encourage the speaker to speak
6. To paraphrase- repeat what has been said to ensure communication was as intended.

The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent Alfred Brendel

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HSR Layout, Bangalore 560 102

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