Listening is a very significant skill that should be cultivated in every individual irrespective of age or role played in the society. This is because it touches on almost every aspect of life that necessitates communication: for instance, education, job or even family relationships.
Listening reduces chances of misunderstandings and conflicts, thereby improving relationships that are formed among people and enhancing individuals’ lives. Listening has also proved to be very essential in enhancing cooperation through fostering of aspects such as individual and corporate understanding, an issue that is very important.
In regard to job, listening skills enhance success through effective performance since people are able to understand each other’s needs and customer satisfaction is improved. In the business sector, effective listening enhances productivity and profitability, and in the education sector, it enhances learning as it allows adoption of ideas from all the people involved (Jean-Luc and Mandell 27). This paper gives an in-depth discussions of was through which listening skills can be improved.
Enhancing listening skills
Effective listening skills are significant. In order to understand the concept of enhancing listening skills, it is important to define what effective listening entails. Effective listening involves the process of gathering all the essential details of the information being communicated at any given time.
It is a process that is only achieved under some circumstances: for instance, an ideal environment. It requires maximum attention to all aspects of communication, especially facial and other nonverbal expressions. Asking questions also contributes greatly to effective listening as it ensures that the listener is at par with the speaker and understands whatever is being communicated. It is through effective listening that an individual is able to comprehend information, retain it and respond appropriately to different situations.
There are various ways that have been put forth in an effort to enhance listening skills or rather ensure that effective listening is maintained in any form of conversation irrespective of the concepts being discussed.
The efforts aimed at enhancing listening skills work by the principle of eliminating, or rather reducing the challenges that go hand in hand with listening; that is, the factors that hinder effective listening. According to Cioffi (par 6), listening skills could be enhanced through personal discipline among the listeners: for instance, through willingness and determination as well as avoiding any form of distraction that could affect attention and concentration.
This could be achieved by maintaining a relaxed mode and putting aside any other aspect that may promote wandering of thoughts. Another simple way of enhancing listening skills is being focused and looking at the speaker’s eyes and other bodily expressions as a way of controlling thoughts and avoiding divided attention. An individual should also avoid interrupting the speaker in the middle of a talk and instead let him/ her finish giving out the discussion.
This is because a concept that could be disturbing at that particular time could be covered before the discussion is over, thus clearing the doubts. It is therefore advisable for people to ask questions once the discussion is over and still one has some contentious issues. Interrupting to offer help is usually viewed to be advantageous, but in the real sense, it affects listening in a negative way as it interferes with the flow of conversation.
Even though it is not easy, a person should never be emotional if listening is to be effective. This is because emotions distorts proper reasoning and could hinder understanding. Rather than taking a discussion as a competition where listeners aim at impressing others by showing that they know a concept, debating should be done on a separate setting where it has no effect on listening.
One should try and affirm points of agreement while at that same time avoid dismissing statements of contention unless the issue is really burning and cannot wait, or failure to raise a disagreement at the moment would mislead the majority of people.
Listening is mostly confused with hearing but there is usually more to listening than just hearing. Unlike hearing, listening requires that there is maximum concentration to ensure that what is heard is remembered and retained for the longest period of time possible. Asking questions is also an aspect that is highly advisable as a way of enhancing listening skills.
This is because it plays a great role in clearing doubts that may exist between the speaker and the listener and also ensures that they both move at the same pace as opposed to where there would be limited understanding that would in turn bring about problems in comprehending important concepts. People should always be open-minded when listening as opposed to having an answer in mind.
Open mindedness allows people to get new ideas, thus promoting effective learning of various concepts since one anticipates acquiring new knowledge, which could only be possible through listening. It is also good to always learn to give others a chance to air their views and opinions in regard to a given concept no matter how knowledgeable one may be in the given area rather than formulating immediate responses as a way of pride or impressing others.
A good listener should make sure he/she listens to the inner self through summarizing (in the mind), what is communicated. This can be shown through aspects like nodding either in concurrence or in protesting, which are clues that show that a person is actively present or involved.
This behavior is not only beneficial to the listener but also satisfying and empowering to the speaker as it assures him or her that an impact has been created. Another essential factor that is mostly neglected by many is that of ensuring that the environment is conducive for maximum attention: for example, doing away with anything that would create noise or any other physical distraction.
All the above efforts require that a person has both the will and patience to listen and learn. This is, however, worthwhile as effective listening is associated with long-term advantages including appropriate communication that in turn allows success in the general life of individuals in the competitive business world (Tronshaw (par 2).
It is evident, from the discussion above, that listening skills are essential in our everyday undertakings. They should therefore be enhanced under all circumstances irrespective of the costs involved since the benefits associated with effective listening surpass the problems associated with lack of effective listening to a very large extent.
The most important factor that enhance effective listening is, however, maintaining maximum attention by avoiding any aspect that may in one way or the other reduce chances of concentration or rather make an individual’s mind to wander.
Cioffi, Rebecca. “Importance of Listening Skills on Job Performance”. Ehow.2010. June 6, 2011.
Jean-Luc, Nancy and Mandell, Charlotte. Listening. New York: Fordham Univ Press, 2007
Tronshaw, Oubria. “How to Enhance Listening Skills”. Ehow. 2011. June 6, 2011.