When thinking about a topic for
this paper, I realized that we all go through our daily lives having lots of
conversations with friends, co-workers, and our family members. Unfortunately,
most of the time we don’t listen as well as we could or even should at times. We
seem often distracted by our environment, with things such as TV, the Internet,
or our phones. I believe that we are listening so-to-speak, but we aren’t giving
them our full attention. Hence my topic for this paper, a skill called active
listening. When thinking about what active listening actually is, we see that
it’s all about building understanding and trust of the listener. As I present the
skills I have learned below in this essay, one should be able to become a
better listener and actually hear what
the other person is saying when engaging in conversation — or rather hearing
not just what you think they are saying or what you want to hear from what they
in fact are saying in the end.
often treat communication as if it were a race. It’s almost like our goal is to
have no time gaps between the conclusion of the sentence of the person we are
speaking with and the beginning of our own. If you think about it, you’ll
notice that it takes an enormous amount of energy and is very stressful to be
sitting at the edge of your seat trying to guess what the person in front of
you is going to say so that you can fire back your response. But as you wait
for the people you are communicating with to finish, as you simply listen more
intently to what is being said, you’ll notice that the pressure you feel is
Listening It is difficult to define listening, but generally it can be defined
as a receiver orientation to the communication process since communication
involves both a source and a receiver, listening consist of the roles receivers
play in the communication process. Listening is a process that includes hearing,
attending to, understanding, evaluating and responding to spoken messages. Our
own listening habits have been developed since we were born. Such habits are so
well established that we perform them without thinking. But unfortunately, such
habits are usually undesirable and lead to poor listening. There are numbers of
reasons for ineffective listening. These do not apply equally to all listeners
and the degree to which they do apply will vary from different situation,
speaker, topic and so forth. They represent common and important reasons for
ineffective listening Rehearsing Your whole attention is designing and
preparing what to say next.
a student, and veteran, I have come to understand that listening is truly a
learnable skill. Unfortunately, it is not typically taught along with other
communication skills at home or in school. I spend more time listening than
using any other form of communication, yet as a youngster I was never taught
the skill. I spent long hours learning to read and write and even had classroom
training in public speaking, but I never had a lesson in listening or thought
of listening as a learnable skill until I entered the world of mediation as an
adult. While some may have had better experiences during their formative years,
for many listening is often treated the same as “hearing.” We do not
ordinarily receive instruction in using our other senses — smell, sight, touch
and taste — so why give lessons in hearing? A message that listening was an
important skill to learn would have fallen on deaf ears when I was a child.
Perhaps now that peer mediation is being taught in many classrooms across the
nation, when children are taught to “Listen to your elders,” they
also will be taught by elders who model good listening skills.
Not all listening is the same Passive
listening is little more than hearing. Passive listening is listening without
reacting: allowing someone to speak, without interrupting. Not doing anything
else at the same time, and yet not really paying attention to what’s being
said. Passive listening is one-way communication where the receiver doesn’t
provide feedback or ask questions and may or may not understand the sender’s
message. Active listening includes responses that
demonstrate that you understand what the other person is trying to tell you
about his or her experience. This is a communication technique that’s very
different from the passive or unfocused listening that we often adopt in
everyday conversation. When you accurately reflect back to
a person what’s been said, you show that you’ve been listening—not just
hearing—and that you genuinely understand the feeling/s or message/s they are
trying to convey. This creates an environment that allows the speaker to go
deeper, and sometimes even to come to new realizations. It’s the basis for
trust and respect.
reasons for ineffective listening are so obvious that they are sometimes
overlooked. First, listening is mistakenly equated with hearing and since most
of us can hear, no academic priority is given to this subject in college.
Second, we perceive power in speech. We put a value on those who have the gift
of gab. How often have you heard the compliment, He/she can talk to anyone?
Additionally, we equate speaking with controlling both the conversation and the
situation. The third and last reason we don’t listen, is that we are in an ear
of information overload. We are bombarded with the relevant and the irrelevant
and it is easy to confuse them. Often it is all just so much noise.
a person is talking to you, nod your head or acknowledge by saying something
that tells the person that you understand them and that you know what he/she
wants you to do. You need to maintain a relaxed body posture and also face the
person that you are conversing with. This tell the person that you are talking
to that he/she has your full and undivided attention. Also, you need to make
eye contact with the speaker. This is another way to show that you are paying
attention to them. If you fail to make eye contact you may give the speaker the
impression that you are not interested in what they are saying. Lastly, you
should focus on the speaker and what they are saying. This is the most
important thing you can do. You can listen but if you aren’t focused on the
speaker, you won’t get all of the information.
There are many barriers to
listening that can cause the communication process to be ineffective and these
can be broken into two groups: external and internal. The external barriers
include such things as a noisy environment and hearing impairment. These
barriers are beyond the control of the listener; he is unable to overcome them.
On the other hand, internal barriers such as mental noise, negative mindset
towards the speaker, and stereotyping; are all within the power of the listener
to improve by practicing proper listening skills. These obstacles impede the
flow of information to the listener who does not receive the subtleties of the
intended message. An example of this would be if one has a negative preset
opinion of a speaker, one will not give the speaker his full attention and will
therefore miss out on the valuable points that were made, and this therefore
results in miscommunication.
Listening aids human beings not
only in the quest to share their message but it also contributes to the
improvement and growth of communication skills. We are born with the ability to
hear but not to listen. Listening is not a natural gift but we can work towards
improving it. It is shown that most people listen ineffectively and they do not
fully understand what is conveyed to them on a daily basis. This lack of
effective listening leads to misunderstanding, confusion and finally conflict
among persons. If sufficient effort is made to improve it, one’s listening will
eventually become effective. Once this is achieved, the human communication
process can function successfully.
I get it, we all do; you’ve got
enough on your plate. There’s always a deadline, and there’s always somewhere
you need to be. It can be hard to genuinely pay attention, especially when
you’ve got a long to-do list that’s occupying your mental energy. But as we’ve
mentioned, active listening doesn’t just benefit your conversational
counterpart — you also stand to gain from it. From making sure you don’t miss
important details, to exercising focus for any important task, putting these
phrases into practice can help you become a proactive, empathetic listener.
Becoming an effective communicator is a dynamic process and lifetime pursuit.
There is much, much more to active listening and to the many other skills that
will help you provide excellent care to potential donor families and to
communicate effectively with your team members. Active listening builds strong
relationships and, while it may not come naturally to many of us, it’s an
invaluable communication skill. Becoming an excellent listener will take
determination and practice and it will be well worth it in both your
professional and personal life.
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