Table of contents
- Introduction to the Art of Listening
- The Four Pillars of Listening: Hearing, Understanding, Remembering, and Responding
- Strategies for Becoming a Better Listener
- The Business Impact of Effective Listening
- Challenges and Solutions in Listening
- Conclusion: The Lifelong Journey of Listening
Introduction to the Art of Listening
“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.”-Roy T. Bennett. Listening is more than just hearing and receiving messages. Listening is a functioning procedure by which we comprehend, evaluate, and how we respond to what we hear. Listening is the most important part of communication; holding a conversation in the business area or our social life is extremely important. This paper will include The components of listening, How we can become better listeners, why listening is important, and the challenges of listening. Listening has multiple elements that all play roles in the listening process.
The Four Pillars of Listening: Hearing, Understanding, Remembering, and Responding
Listening has multiple components, from Hearing and understanding to remembering and responding. Hearing is an incidental and programmed mind reaction to sound that requires no exertion. We are encompassed by sounds more often than not. For instance, we are acclimated to the sounds of clocks, garden trimmers, heater blowers, the shaking of pots and pans, etc. We hear those coincidental sounds and, except if we have the motivation to do else, we train ourselves to disregard them. We figure out how to sift through sounds that mean little to us, similarly as we decide to hear our ringing mobile phones and different sounds that are progressively essential to us. According to courses lumen learning, “Hearing is something most everyone does without even trying. It is a physiological response to sound waves moving through the air at up to 760 miles per hour”. Sound is all around us. Therefore, we are always hearing things no matter if we intend to hear it or not. Real-life examples of hearing things without paying attention to a sound would be ticking clocks, tapping of feet, and dripping faucets. Understanding is also a concept that coincides with listening. According to Lumen Learning, “ Understanding or comprehension is “shared meaning between parties in a communication transaction” and constitutes the first step in the listening process. This is the stage during which the listener determines the context and meanings of the words he or she hears”. Understanding is when you add meaning to the message received. In life we all understand messages one way or another, whether by listening to someone talk or through nonverbal communication like sign language.
Remembering is another stage in listening. Remembering is when you are able to recall messages or information received. According to Joseph DeVito, “However, even when you are listening attentively, some messages are more difficult than others to understand and remember. Highly complex messages that are filled with detail call for highly developed listening skills. Moreover, if something distracts your attention even for a moment, you could miss out on information that explains other new concepts you hear when you begin to listen fully again”. Remembering is not as easy as everyone expects it to be. We as humans have trouble sometimes with remembering, even the littlest things. In a real-life situation, for example, I remember one time I had to make spaghetti, but the recipe was read to me, and I did not have the recipe physically, so I had to remember it. I did fairly well, but the amount of information I received was most likely a lot for me to handle.
Strategies for Becoming a Better Listener
Responding is the last stage in listening. Being able to respond to someone after Hearing, understanding, and remembering what that person said all comes together in the responding stage. You have to hear what a person has to say to be able to understand, remember, to be able to respond to that person. According to Lumen Learning, “The responding stage is the stage of the listening process wherein the listener provides verbal and/or nonverbal reactions based on short- or long-term memory. Following the remembering stage, a listener can respond to what they hear either verbally or nonverbally. Nonverbal signals can include gestures such as nodding, making eye contact, tapping a pen, fidgeting, scratching or cocking their head, smiling, rolling their eyes, grimacing, or any other body language”. A real-life example of being able to respond is when someone is telling you something serious, and they need your feedback to help them make up their mind on a decision. The listener must be able to remember what the person said to respond in the way necessary for the situation the listener is in.
How can we all of us become better listeners? Being a good listener is an acquired skill that could take time to achieve. Active listening is a step in the right direction of becoming a better listener. According to Usip.org, “Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. It is an important first step to defuse the situation and seek solutions to problems”. Giving feedback will allow the other person to hear what you say about the situation. Some things to stay away from when trying to be a good listener is communication blockers. Knowledge Hut said, “A communication blocker can create a divide between people and impede effective communication flow. Communication blockers can create a loss of enthusiasm to communicate and can many times completely break the communication between people”. An example of communication blockers are “why” questions; they make people defensive. Advising is another communication blocker; this one is when you tell someone “what's best for them”. There are plenty more including interrupting, quick reassurance, etc… Another good practice of how to be a good listener is critical thinking. According to Criticalthinking.org, “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. Its exemplary form is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness”. Critical thinking is being able to see the problems at hand and find a solution to said problems. Also, you are able to make accurate judgments about specific topics. Whether it's the components of listening or how to become a better listener, they share a main subject: communication and the importance of listening.
The Business Impact of Effective Listening
The importance of listening comes down to one thing: being able to communicate. The most vital area where listening is the most important in the business area.
According to Small Business, “Listening enables you to acquire facts so that you can make decisions that benefit your business. By listening to a job applicant in an interview, for example, you might discover his attitudes toward the profession, performance in previous jobs, and information not detailed on his resume. This additional insight can help you decide whether the applicant is a good fit for your company.”. In the business area, the importance of listening can also lead to building trust with other people. Another quote from Alchemy for managers is, “Good listening and skillful questioning give a powerful message to those with whom you interact. They hugely increase your capacity to influence, motivate, develop, or serve people effectively”. This quote tells how listening skills are important in building relationships and being able to give meaning to what you are saying so that people can have trust.
Challenges and Solutions in Listening
The challenges of listening are something that everyone can work on. People have tendencies to interrupt people, give unwanted advice, fill in gaps, etc… According to Skills You Need, “Even good listeners are often guilty of critically evaluating what is being said before fully understanding the message that the speaker is trying to communicate. The result is that assumptions are made, and conclusions reached about the speaker's meaning that might be inaccurate. This and other types of ineffective listening leads to misunderstandings and a breakdown in communication”. A real-life example of this would be when someone is trying to have a conversation, and you start to cut them off, or when you fully do not let the other person say what they were going to say. Trying to listen to multiple conversations is a challenge of listening, because the more information you receive, the more likely you are not to remember what the conversations are about. According to Lumen Learning, “When people are upset about something and want to talk about it, their capacity to listen is greatly diminished. Trying to get your point across to a person trying to express a strong feeling will usually cause the other person to try even harder to recognize that emotion.
Conclusion: The Lifelong Journey of Listening
On the other hand, once people feel that their messages and feelings have been heard, they start to relax and have more attention available for listening”. This quote relates to listening challenges because when two people are having a serious conversation, the receiver should be ready to listen fully before interjecting their own opinions or thoughts so that the sender does not feel irritated at the receiver for not listening attentively. Another quote from Lumen Learning, “People want both: to be understood and acknowledged on the one hand, and to be approved and agreed with, on the other. With practice, you can learn to respond first with a simple acknowledgment. As you do this, you may find that, figuratively speaking, you can give your conversation partners half of what they want, even if you can’t give them all of what they want. In many conflict situations, that will be a giant step forward”. People are usually not fully open with just random people, even well-known people. We as humans have walls up, so that we do not give information out to random people who are not deserving of finding out this information.
Listening is such a crucial skill that is very hard to perfect, so no matter what, we all make mistakes and are always learning. Listening is a good skill to have because we use listening as a way to communicate. The topics in this paper were The components of listening, how we can become better listeners, why listening is important, and the challenges of listening. While writing this paper, I learned that we are always listening whether we like it or not. I also learned that patience and listening go hand in hand when communicating with someone.