How To Listen:-

But Listen first
You know, the only problem is you just don’t listen. Does it sound familiar? You bet it does. The reason being, the world is so full of people like you and me, who are so busy speaking and trying to get their point across, that there is neither the inclination nor the time to devote to listening.

Effective communication has never been and is not and will never be only about good articulation or writing skills. There is definitely more to it. Listening effectively is an indispensable ingredient of effective communication.
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Alright, listening is important. But Can I get help on how to listen effectively.

Let us begin by analyzing the category of listener to which we belong. A child gets back from school and starts to rattle off all the day’s happening to his/her mother. The mother is busy with the daily chores but listens in bits and pieces or selectively takes in what she wants to hear. Well that is selective listening. Picture that you are attending a workshop and the gathering is being addressed by a very influential orator. You start to hear him, gradually taking in every word, every sentence and how it is being said. In the process of being so attentive to words and phrases and the whole talk, you are unconsciously missing out on the meaning of the words and the sentences and thereby the whole talk. You heard everything, yet you heard nothing. Now, this is attentive listening.

Now that brings us to the last category. Picture this. Your friend or someone very close to you is narrating his/her problem to you. You listen carefully, not saying much but you gradually feel drawn, placing yourself in his/her shoes. You start to experience it. You begin to empathize with the person. That is what is empathic listening. I feel tempted to quote a couple of lines from a passage that I read recently “Don’t just hear, listen. Don’t just listen, understand.”

I am sure, we all want to be empathic listeners because we realize if we really wish to foster a strong bond and be a very effective communicator, that’s the area we will have to develop and keep going strong. Now I guess it is time to dole out tips on becoming an empathic listener and in turn an effective communicator.
So here, you go:

  • Just keep quiet and hear the person out. It is difficult to hear when the tongue is working. Even the good book, the Bible says Be swift to hear, slow to speak.
  • We have two ears and if I listen with both my ears, it should be enough. Yes, that should have been enough. But have we not heard the saying “In one ear and out the other”. So, we do agree, we have to put in extra effort. Use eye contact or body language. Lean forward slightly; it will help you be more attentive when listening. Moreover it also helps the speaker, because he is able to see your interest as a listener..
  • When you have made up your mind on listening effectively, I am sure you would like to avoid all sorts of distraction which can distance you from the speaker. So, the next time you are listening, don’t look outside the window to see who the passerby is or what is happening in the world outside. Distractions can exist even within closed doors. When you are listening, you don’t really have to appreciate the décor or the furniture placed inside. There will certainly be a better time available to do so.
  • Make the speaker feel that you are interested in his talk. Make him feel that the only thing which concerns you the most at that particular moment of time is his talk. Now, there are ways to do it. A slight nod of your head, a smile and other such exhibition of acknowledgement certainly goes a long way.
  • The last but not the least important tip is revealing your empathic and your nonjudgmental attitude. As the person speaks, picture yourself in his/her position. Don’t start preparing what you should be saying to the person. Believe me, more
  • often than not, people just want to be heard. .
  • When you do start listening, hear not only what is being said but try also to listen to the unspoken words. Joe Girard in his book “How to sell yourself” talks about a writing on his office wall that reads “I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said. But I am not sure that you realize that what you heard is not what I meant”. Well, that brings me to the end of my set of tips on being an effective listener. Alright, you have the right to say, “it’s easier said than done”. I agree and I confess I am not able to practice all the tips, all of the time, but what you and I can do is make a conscious effort to do so most of the time. In conclusion I can only say, “Welcome to the club of avid, effective listeners”.