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Listening is both a physiological as well as a cognitive process, a sort of qualitative add-on to hearing. Listening also helps the cultivation of smooth interpersonal relationships with fellow workers, which is essential for efficient functioning of the organization.

Listening skills

Research studies and surveys have shown that most of the adults are poor listeners. A basic reason for this is that we practice it seldom though few of us have been taught how to listen; listening efficiency can actually be raised by merely giving some attention to it. A prime cause of poor listening is the difference between the think speed and a person’s rate of speech. This refers to the difference between the average rate of speech-about 125 to 175 words a minute and brain’s capacity to think words , which is at the rate of 500 to 1000 words a minute or in some case 5000 . Thus, our brain works too fast and the relatively slow input of these 125 to 175 words a minute leaves the mind much room to think about other things. When we are engaged in conversation we find so many times that the listener is miles away.

Guidelines for listening effectively

Active and effective listening is must to become an effective speaker. By listening carefully to his audience, a communicator can gauge how his message is being received. By listening patiently to their comments and questions, he can tell how his points are being understood. The listeners can see the following techniques/ideas to improve their basic listening. A communicator can put them to use to improve his overall listening ability.

Stop talking: You cannot listen if you are talking.

Put the talker at ease: Help a person feel free to talk. This is often called a permissive environment. In this environment speaker feels to express opinions, feelings ideas and attitudes.

Show a talker that you want to listen: Look and act interested. Do not do any other (reading mail) while someone talks. Listen to understand rather than to oppose.

Remove distraction: Do not tap or shuffle papers. If there is some noise or distraction from outside it will be better to shut the door.

Give feedback: When you are communicator, immediate feedback is very important. If there is a misunderstanding, the best time to rectify it is immediately, to avoid future problems.

Listen between the lines: Very often, we may say one thing while we really mean something quite different. Others may also do like this. So, it is important to remember this advice. Do not listen to what I say, listen to what I mean.

Listen for purpose motive: Every speaker hopefully has a purpose, but it may not related to the content of the speech. In order to determine the speaker’s motive, free your mind of traditional evaluative thoughts and ask yourself the question what is the speaker’s purpose. Listen carefully and get an idea of the speaker’s perspective. Try to understand the framework and point of view.

Listen for attitudes: Our behavior is a reflection of our attitudes, and our attitudes are shaped by our motives. To understand a person’s motives, you must listen carefully or expressions about other people, classes, groups or ideas. People reveal their attitudes in their comments about others. So listen attentively and do not lit a contrasting attitude or value stop you from listening.

Listen to non-verbal language: This language is expressed through eye contact and facial expressions such as smiles, frowns, raised eye brows, moving versus steady eyes, a tense versus a relaxed face, and look of approval or disapproval etc. Finger pointing, covering the mouth with hand and touching are also ways of non verbal expression. Another way of non-verbal communication is how say words. This includes voice intonation, inflections, and smoothness of speech and so on. How a person says words, can greatly after their meaning. Often this non-verbal communication takes place simultaneously with verbal speaking which can amplify or change the meaning of woks. It also expresses attitudes and emotions. So consider these non verbal cues within the physical and cultural context and in reference to the individual using them.

Avoid negative feedback: When people become emotionally upset they tend to interrupt, argue with, or criticize the speaker. It makes the speaker defensive and he/she can hide his real opinions, feelings, ideas and attitudes.

Emphasize with the talker: Perhaps the best trait of a good listener is that of empathy. Being able to put ourselves in other’s positions and sincerely trying to see things from their point of view is truly an ability teacher and trainers should cultivate.

Be patient: allow plenty of time. Do not interrupt a talker. Do not start for the door or walk away.

Hold your temper: an angry of disturbed person takes the wrong meaning from words. An individual is better able to deal with the situation if he fully understands the opposing position. So, if you are to understand other person, you must keep yourself cool and hold your temper. Try to listen empathetically to something that disturbs you.

Go easy on argument and criticism: This puts people on the defensive, and they may ‘ clean-up ‘ or become angry. Do not argue. Even if you win, you lose. Ask questions: This encourages a talker and shows that you are listening. It helps to develop points further.

Stop talking: This first last, because all other guides depend on it. You cannot do an effective listening job while you are talking.

Nature gave people two ears but only one tongue which is a gentle hint that they should listen more than they talk. Listening requires two ears, one for meaning and one for feeling.

To develop your listening skills, evaluate your communication with another person after the discussion ends. Ask yourself, what did I do effectively in term soft these techniques? Then ask, what do I need to improve on?

Barriers to listening:

i) Adverse physical atmosphere:

Proper physical environment induces good listening.

ii) Lack of motivation

The lack of a strong desire to understand, to learn, to acquire skills, or to gain knowledge binders effective listening.

iii) Improper perception

A distorted or truncated perception of the relevance and usefulness of the topic affects listening adversely.

iv) Negative personality traits

Studies on the relationship between listening and personality traits show that in general, those persons who are self-centered, boastful and down.

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