1.0 THE ART OF LISTENING
Listening activity involves comprehension and 3 transactional processes
(direct feed-back, indirect feed-back, and delayed feed-back). Listening can be active or passive. In active listening the
listener shows obvious interest and asks questions. An active listener must ask questions to understand. The questions should
seek clarifications or additional information. Questions that pre-empt the speaker or that are hypothetical should be avoided.
Questions remove ambiguity and create clarity. The speaker can not know whether a passive listener is following or not. Listening
can be empathic or critical. Empathic listening could be active or passive. Critical listening involves appreciation and discrimination
and is always active.
3.0 IMPROVING LISTENING:
Improve your listening skills in face-to-face communication. Analyze
your listening behavior, analyze the speaker’s style and analyze the message and see how they relate to your listening
behavior. The following behaviors or attributes of the speaker can improve listening: appropriate rate of speaking, fluency,
visibility, credibility, likability, and similarity in values with listeners. The message can encourage better listening if
it is clear, organized, and is captive.
As a listener you can improve your listening in various ways. Talk less
and listen more. Clear your mind of other matters before start of the conversation and give undivided attention to the speaker.
Let the speaker know you are listening. Write notes. Ask open-ended questions for clarification and also for encouragement
of the speaker. Give feed-back. Summarize or paraphrase some of what the speaker says. Be open-minded and not judgmental.
While listening avoid the mistake of confusing content with feelings. Separate and deal with each accordingly knowing that
each is important. Do not verbally or by use of body language show the speaker that he is ignorant or crazy. Do not be too
argumentative even if you do not agree with the speaker. Listen, then think, then respond, and then comprehend.
4.0 BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE LISTENING:
The following are barriers to effective listening: weak extrinsic motivation,
personal constraints, environmental constraints, and poor timing of the message. Whenever any of these situations arise, it
is better to stop the communication process in a polite non-offensive way and resume at some other time.
5.0 USING THE TELEPHONE: When
using the telephone, start with a pleasant but short greeting. Establish rapport immediately. Project a positive and credible
image at the beginning; this will facilitate further conversation. Speak with a powerful and confident voice. Sound interested
and motivated. Be brief and get to the point immediately. Pause and allow for responses. There are words and expressions used
in face-to-face communication that will lead to misunderstandings in a telephone conversation because there is no supporting
body language. Train yourself to signal that you want to end the conversation without offending your listener. You must learn
technics appropriate to your culture of cutting off a rambling caller tactfully. When an angry, aggressive, and obnoxious
person calls you, be careful not to get emotional. Listen him out and ask clarifying questions to understand his motives then
act appropriately. It is always better to end such a talk quickly and plan a follow-up at a later time when the caller may
be in a better emotional situation.