Taking all the communication that we do, we think we’re good at listening. Research shows that we are only remember
between 25 percent and 50 percent of what we hear. This shows that we are not good listeners.
Importance of active listening
Effective listening is a skill that we can all benefit from. Communication is important in carrying out our tasks as well as in developing quality and meaningful relationships. And, listening is a major aspect of communication. Listening is essential in all aspects of life although the purpose of this article is career-wise.
We can avoid conflict and misunderstanding; better influence, persuade, and negotiate; improve the way we do our jobs; and develop quality and meaningful relationships by improving our listening skills. Therefore, listening is essential for a successful career.
Tips to listen actively:
1. Pay Attention
Active listening is paying attention to the complete message of the communicator by paying attention to him/her. Give the speaker your undivided attention by:
- Looking at him or her directly;
- Pausing to listen to him or her by refraining from distractive thoughts such as preparing a rebuttal, and other distractions such as side or other conversations; and
- Listening to the speaker’s body language.
2. Show that you are Listening
Ensure that the speaker knows you are listening. Responding to the speaker in a way that will encourage him to continue speaking can deepen the conversation. Show that you are listening by:
- Nodding occasionally and encouraging the speaker to go on with verbal comments such as “uh-huh;”
- Using facial expressions and open posture to encourage the
- speaker to continue speaking.
3. Provide Feedback
As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. An occasional question or comment to recap what has been said can help in this regard. This may prompt you to reflect on what is being said by asking questions.
- Reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing. For example, the
phrase “Sounds like you are saying… ," is a great way to reflect
back by correcting misconceptions if any and affirming what has actually been
- Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean
when you say…" is a good question that takes into account what has been
said and delves further into what the speaker wants to communicate.
4. Postpone Judgment
Interrupting frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message. So, it is a waste of what could have been an excellent communicator. Postpone judgment by:
- Allowing the speaker to finish each point before asking
- Withholding yourself from interrupting with counter arguments.
5. Respond Appropriately
Active listening is designed to encourage understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. So, responding is important.
- Respond candidly,
openly, and honestly;
- Assert your thoughts
respectfully even if you disagree; and
- Treat the other
person as you would want to treated.