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.