Listening, often overlooked, is a vital aspect of the human communication process. While speaking is often practiced and emphasized by many, the art of listening isn't one on which we find people spending much effort. In actuality, listening is easy and can be improved by following just a few simple steps.
Being a good listener means that everything you hear comes directly from the speaker and not from your interpretation of their words. It means that, as the speaker is talking, you are listening to the words as they are being spoken instead of trying to guess the point that the speaker is trying to make. People are often guilty of jumping to conclusions when they do this, and, in doing so, they disrupt their listening ability. When jumping to conclusions, the person often doesn't hear the speaker's message because their assumptions block it out. Good listeners absorb all the information while the words are spoken and avoid thinking ahead and forming their own conclusions.
Giving the speaker your undivided attention is probably one of the essential tips for good communication. Concentrate on the speaker's words and avoid tuning out their message. When speaking on the phone, many people engage in other activities such as reading newspapers, checking email, and other activities that distract from the conversation. Many listeners zone out during face-to-face situations by either thinking about their response to the speaker or daydreaming about something completely unrelated to the subject.
When you allow yourself to be distracted, your listening skills are not what they need to be. Missing a critical point of the speaker's presentation can result from just a small amount of distraction. If you can focus your attention entirely on the speaker, you will hear all said. In addition, you can ensure that you are being a good listener and are taking in all of the pertinent information.
One technique of being a better listener involves creating mental images of the speaker's words. It is a way of visualization that allows you to comprehend the words you are hearing. These visualization skills can enhance the way that people process information. By using these mental images, you will help yourself by retaining the information you have just heard. This enhanced and improved comprehension makes you a better listener.
Taking care to note your body language can be another way to be a good listener. You will offend your listener if you engage in body language that lets the speaker feel that they are not being listened to. Behaviors such as avoiding eye contact, crossing your arms, or wincing can send a speaker that you are not listening to them. These body language or mannerisms can cut the conversation short because the speaker does not feel you are interested in what they are saying.
You can also consider asking questions that relate to the speaker's statements. This technique can also help you to become a better listener. Remember to ask questions without allowing your questions to interfere with your listening ability. If you find yourself focusing on one of the speaker's key points and spending the rest of the conversation trying to think of a question that addresses that point, you will miss a lot of information. Instead, try asking your questions immediately when you think of them. This way, you can have your question answered in the context of the speaker's presentation without having it affect your listening abilities. When you ask questions as part of listening, it allows the speaker to recognize that their presentation is being followed and that you are interested in learning more about the topic.
If you practice your listening skills, you will be well on your way to becoming a better listener. Try making a conscientious effort to use your listening skills each time you speak to someone or participate in a presentation. Remain focused entirely on the conversation or presentation and try not to guess what the speaker will say. Create mental images of the words being spoken and ask valid questions to confirm what you have just heard. Each time you have the opportunity to listen, try to work on these essential listening skills.
While listening is not as widely practiced as speaking in the art of conversation, it is just as important. When you are an excellent listener, you will ensure that you receive and information and assure the speaker that you care about the presented information and understand its message.
These are just a few things that USA Student Advisory recommends. Receive more insight on how to develop your success as an international student. Contact us today for your free membership at USA Student Advisory and ESL Certification.
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