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Listening is the ability to receive and interpret messages in the communication process accurately. It involves identifying the sounds of speech and processing them into words and sentences. It requires focus and attention. It is a skill that most people need to work on.
Listening is the first of four essential language skills. It is important to understand that listening is more than just hearing the words directed to us. It is an active process by which we make sense of, assess, and respond to what we hear. It is a particular communication technique that requires the listener to provide feedback on what they hear from the speaker.
To refine your listening skills, you need to give the other person your full attention and maintain eye contact. Listening enables you to acquire facts so that you can make decisions that benefit your business.
What are the factors in developing excellent listening skills?
#1 Maintain Eye Contact
When talking to someone, you must maintain eye contact. It is an essential ingredient of effective communication. Eye contact is a form of gesture that is essential while we communicate an idea.
While our body language speaks more than our words, which logically accounts for a more significant percentage of our communication skills, our eyes speak volumes about us and how we communicate.
The significant part of eye contact is developed and built trust. When you practice good eye contact, you will develop a skill for effective and vital communication.
When you keep eye contact with the person you are talking to, it connotes interest and saying to the person that they are essential. The person might also lose interest in sharing their ideas if the person they are talking to often looks away.
#2 Keep an Open Mind
Listen without judgment to the person you are talking to, and do not jump into conclusions. It is not proper to criticize every word that they have shared. Being resilient can be tough at times, but you can learn about new things, and you can use new ideas to build on old ideas.
Keeping an open mind is like embracing new ideas, and we must seek to know ourselves to identify our personal biases. High power lies in the ability to be formed between our thoughts and the thoughts of others.
#3 Don't Interrupt and Don't impose Your Solutions
When you listen to someone who talks about their problem, we should refrain from suggesting solutions while the other person is still talking. It is not proper as people will ask for an answer or advice if they want to. People who say something about their problems want you to get to know more about their concerns. It is better to ask permission first if you want an idea to be heard.
#4 Stay Focus While Listening
By listening intently, we will grasp the topic and move more effectively into the conversation. A good listener fights to remain engaged even when they have other things competing for his attention. By listening, they are connecting more effectively.
It is also important to engage in a conversation and not change the subject unless the discussion is finished. If you change the topic of a discussion prematurely, you demonstrate a lack of interest in the conversation and indicate that what you have to say is more important.
#5 Respond by Asking Question
While listening, it is important to ask questions. This is a gauge that you show interest in the topic, and this is what you call effective questioning. A powerful question generates curiosity in the listener, and it stimulates reflective conversation. These are provocative queries that put half to evasion and confusion. By asking these questions, it creates clarity, action, and discovery at a whole new level.
Authentic listening is not successful if both the listener and the receiver does not understand a specific topic or situation. To help you clarify things, you must repeat back what you believe the other person just said. This technique avoids misunderstanding. It is also important not to assume that you understand everything. Ask open-ended questions to get the whole picture.
Open-ended questions are the type that elicits a response, which is more in-depth than only a yes or no answer. This question is likely to result in a more extended response full of valuable information. Open-ended questions can also help you get to know another person more quickly and find out what they think, feel, or plan to do.
Listening can be affected by low concentration, which can be detrimental to active listening. It can result from various psychological and physical situations such as lack of interest in the subject matter, physical discomfort, stress, or personal bias.
Unfortunately, nowadays, people have forgotten how to listen. An ideal conversation means 20% talking and 80% listening, which may shock many of you, but it actually helps set the tone and value of the conversation. Think about it, when you rant your problems to someone, and they just sit there listening to you having a full-blown monologue without interruption, doesn’t that make you feel better about yourself and your situation? Now, imagine offering this to someone who simply wants someone to listen to them without adding unsolicited advice to the mixture. That would make them feel a lot better, wouldn’t it?
On another note, many people know that seating all day can result in physical pain in the back or other body parts. That is why it is crucial to stand once in a while when working.
A sit-stand desk has been proven to help alleviate back pain, and you will feel more alert. When someone approaches you and asks for your opinion, you can be sure that you can listen actively.
This is because standing can be your alternative to abandoning your chair if you are temporarily bored, blocked by problems, or merely sleepy from sitting all day. Choosing to stand at work is also the beginning of having a pleasant journey at your job.
However, it is crucial to understand that neither sitting too much or standing too much is good for you. Ideally, you should strive for a balance between the two. So, if you’ve been sitting for an hour or two, it would be best to raise your desk and stand for a while and alternate in between. If you don’t have a standing desk at work or home yet, simply get up and find an excuse that’s work related to get up and walk a bit to stretch your legs.
To summarize, being an active listener offers many benefits, whether on the practical or social side. On the practical side, it connects you to the world around you and helps you understand your responsibilities.
For example, suppose you don't listen carefully to instructions in school or work. In that case, you won't be able to deliver your assignments well or answer a specific question from your school examination.
While on the social side, a good relationship should have a back and forth mutual exchange of communication. Your listening skills should be fostered in a relationship as being a good listener fosters a meaningful relationship with those around you.