Listening Skills – Introduction
Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Let’s see about Listening skills in detail with Strategies & Best ways to improve it.
What are the Listening Skills?
Listening skill is key to receiving messages effectively. It is a combination of hearing what another person says and psychological involvement with the person who is talking. Listening is a skill of Language.
Types of Listening:
Active Listening: It is the ability to focus completely on the speaker, comprehend and understand their information and respond effectively (either by verbal or non-verbal cues or action or execution).
Passive Listening: It is an act of hearing a speaker without retaining their message.
What do you mean by Listening Skills ?
Listening is a language modality. It is one of the four skills of a language i.e. listening, speaking, reading and writing. It involves an active involvement of an individual. Listening involves a sender , a message and a receiver. It is the psychological process of receiving, attending to constructing meaning from and responding to spoken and/or non verbal messages.
Components of Listening Skills
- Listening comprises of some key components, they are:
- Discriminating between sounds
- Recognizing words and understanding their meaning
- Identifying grammatical groupings of words,
- Identifying expressions and sets of utterances that act to create meaning,
- Connecting linguistic cues to non-linguistic and paralinguistic cues,
- Using background knowledge to predict and to confirm meaning and
- Recalling important words and ideas.
Why are Listening Skills important?
Importance of Listening Skills
Good listening skills make workers more productive. The ability to listen carefully will allow a person to:
- Understand assignments in better way and find and what is expected from him.
- Build rapport with co-workers, bosses, and clients;
- Show support;
- Work better in a team-based environment;
- Resolve problems with customers, co-workers, and bosses;
- Answer questions
- Find underlying meanings in what others say
What are the process of listening?
Process of listening
The process of listening occur in five stages. They are Hearing, Understanding, Remembering, Evaluating, And Responding.
It is refered to the response caused by sound waves stimulating the sensory receptors of the ear; it is physical response; hearing is perception of sound waves; you must hear to listen, but you need not listen to hear (perception necessary for listening depends on attention). Brain screens stimuli and permits only a select few to come into focus- these selective perception is known as attention, an important requirement for effective listening.
This step helps to understand symbols we have seen and heard, we must analyze the meaning of the stimuli we have perceived; symbolic stimuli are not only words but also sounds like applause… and sights like blue uniform…that have symbolic meanings as well; the meanings attached to these symbols are a function of our past associations and of the context in which the symbols occur. For successful interpersonal communication, the listener must understand the intended meaning and the context assumed by the sender.
Remembering is important listening process because it means that an individual has not only received and interpreted a message but has also added it to the mind”s storage bank. In Listening our attention is selective, so too is our memory- what is remembered may be quite different from what was originally seen or heard.
Only active listeners participate at this stage in Listening. At this point the active listener weighs evidence, sorts fact from opinion, and determines the presence or absence of bias or prejudice in a message; the effective listener makes sure that he or she doesn’t begin this activity too soon ; beginning this stage of the process before a message is completed requires that we no longer hear and attend to the incoming message-as a result, the listening process ceases
This stage requires that the receiver complete the process through verbal and/or nonverbal feedback; because the speaker has no other way to determine if a message has been received, this stage becomes the only overt means by which the sender may determine the degree of success in transmitting the message
Strategies for Listening
Listening strategies are techniques or activities that contribute directly to the comprehension and recall of listening input. Listening strategies can be classified by how the listener processes the input.
Top-down strategies are listener based. The listener taps into background knowledge of the topic, the situation or context, the type of text, and the language. This background knowledge activates a set of expectations that help the listener to interpret what is heard and anticipate what will come next. Top-down strategies include
- Listening for the main idea
- Drawing inferences
Bottom-up strategies are text based;
The listener relies on the language in the message, that is, the combination of sounds, words, and grammar that creates meaning. Bottom-up strategies include
- Listening for specific details
- Recognizing cognates
- Recognizing word-order patterns
10 Ways to improve Listening skill
Hearing and Listening are two different activity. Hearing is passive whereas Listenging is active. Listening is a psychological process. It can therefore be improved by regular practice. Listening is a very helpful skill. Active listening is really an extension of the Golden Rule. Here are some of the tips which can help the person to improve his Listening skill:
Tips to improve Listening skill
1. Face the speaker. Sit up straight or lean forward slightly to show your attentiveness through body language.
2. Maintain eye contact, to the degree that you all remain comfortable.
3. Minimize external distractions. Turn off the TV. Put down your book or magazine, and ask the speaker and other listeners to do the same.
4. Respond appropriately to show that you understand.
Murmur (“uh-huh” and “um-hmm”) and nod. Raise your eyebrows. Say words such as “Really,” “Interesting,” as well as more direct prompts: “What did you do then?” and “What did she say?”
5. Focus solely on what the speaker is saying. Try not to think about what you are going to say next. The conversation will follow a logical flow after the speaker makes her point.
6. Minimize internal distractions. If your own thoughts keep horning in, simply let them go and continuously re-focus your attention on the speaker, much as you would during meditation.
7. Keep an open mind. Wait until the speaker is finished before deciding that you disagree. Try not to make assumptions about what the speaker is thinking.
8. Avoid letting the speaker know how you handled a similar situation. Unless they specifically ask for advice, assume they just need to talk it out.
9. Even if the speaker is launching a complaint against you, wait until they finish to defend yourself. The speaker will feel as though their point had been made. They won’t feel the need to repeat it, and you’ll know the whole argument before you respond. Research shows that, on average, we can hear four times faster than we can talk, so we have the ability to sort ideas as they come in…and be ready for more.
10. Engage yourself. Ask questions for clarification, but, once again, wait until the speaker has finished. That way, you won’t interrupt their train of thought. After you ask questions, paraphrase their point to make sure you didn’t misunderstand. Start with: “So you’re saying…”
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