How To Be An Effective Listener

When asked about your communication skills what comes to your mind? For most people the image created is either of giving a speech in a packed auditorium or writing an engaging piece. What is common between these two: they are related to the sender in the communication process. What this means is that most of us picture ourselves as the sender. But this is an incomplete view of communication – the other significant aspect of communication occurs from the receiver. And it is this aspect that we tend to ignore. We are so busy becoming good speakers that we forget it is equally critical to become good listeners.

The communication process is incomplete till the message is received and comprehended by the receiver. And The communication skills can be comprehensively developed when we talk about both conveying and receiving communication effectively.

This article discusses how to enhance listening skills. Listening is the process of hearing and comprehending a message and taking appropriate action or providing feedback.
We spend all our time in enhancing speaking skills but pay practically no attention to listening. So here are a few pointers for enhancing listening skills

First, listening requires a great deal of concentration and attention. While listening your mind should not be pre-occupied with other thoughts. Listen and concentrate on only to what is being said.

Secondly, leave your prejudices and judgement aside. The message is more important than who delivers it or how it is delivered.

Free your environment of physical distractions like noise, mobile phones etc. The less the stimuli in your environment fighting for your attention, the better will be your listening abilities.
Try to internalize the message by relating it your existing knowledge, ideas and experiences. This will help you retain the message longer.

Provide feedback especially if additional information or explanation is required. The most critical trait of an active listener is providing feedback. This results in a two-way communication which is way more interesting than a monologue and also helps in generating new ideas.

Don’t interrupt the speaker while he is talking. Keep your observations for when there is a pause or till the end of the communication.

Listen to understand not criticize. Critical listening is important but listening only for the purpose of criticism seldom results in effective listening.

Read between the lines. Concentrate not only on the words but also the body language of the speaker, this will help you in understanding the underlying meaning of the message.

Following these simple strategies can take you a step closer to becoming an effective listener

The BizComm program of Strengthscape comprises of a detailed module on Effective Listening.

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