Techniques for Being a Good Listener
The world, as is currently set up, is high-paced. Everything and everyone is moving fast, and the situation is even worse in the healthcare sector. It is noted that the veterinary science sector is also no exception. Genuine listening is rare these days, regardless of how significant it is in building relationships, guaranteeing an understanding, solving issues, improving accuracy and resolving conflicts. At the veterinary department, effective listening results in less wasted time and fewer errors which, in turn, allow for better results. The listening principles that can be applied at work are also applicable at home, and they allow for self-reliance and the building of healthy bonds that can last a lifetime. In a world where genuine and effective listening is running in short supply, several techniques can be utilized to help amend the situation.
The first technique is facing the speaker and maintaining eye contact with them (Haldane et al., 2017). it is noted that talking to someone while they focus on something else such as a computer screen, gazing at the window or scanning a room might just be as good as speaking to an inanimate object. It shows that one is not getting the other person’s undivided attention, and it could mean that the information being communicated is not being comprehended one bit, and is not making any impact whatsoever. This is where facing the speaker and maintaining eye contact comes in handy. It ensures that all the concentration is on the speaker and what is being said (Haldane et al., 2017). This allows for a better understanding of what is being communicated, and, at work, this allows for the easier and more effective implementation of directions which subsequently, lead to better results down the line.
Another technique to use is avoiding interruptions and not imposing one’s idea of “solutions (Revuelta, 2018).” Growing up, kids were taught that it was rude to interrupt. Things seem to have changed and people no longer find an issue with interrupting others. Interruption sends a not-so-good message, from not caring what the speaker is saying, implying that one is more important than the speaker, or that they have something more interesting to say. Regardless, it is rude and it hampers communication. It is important to take turns, and wait until an appropriate moment before any questions can be asked (Revuelta, 2018). This can result in better and more effective communication with better results in the end.
Some other techniques that can be used include asking questions to ensure that one understands what is being communicated, giving appropriate and regular feedback, paying attention to non-verbal cues and just paying attention (Gaida et al., 2018). Of these, nonverbal cues stand out. They include aspects such as the tone of the speaker, the cadence of their voice, any facial expressions, the speaker’s posture, among others. These cues send a message that goes beyond what is being verbally uttered and it can help in understanding the situation, and understanding the message being put across a lot better (Gaida et al., 2018). Of course, at the end of the day, for one to be a good listener, one does not have to focus on a single technique. Instead, it is a blend of all the techniques without having to prioritize one over the other. They are all equally important and integral to being a good listener.
What to do to Clarify What a Client/Coworker is Saying
Sometimes information or a given message is not gotten on one go. For instance, a client might come into the hospital and start explaining symptoms and what they think might be the issue. There are specific things that veterinary science professionals usually look out for in the symptoms and the clients might not understand or know how to articulate themselves. This is where seeking clarification comes in handy. Just like communication, it ought to be handled with care lest there is a breakdown in communication or trust is lost between the parties involved. One way that one can seek clarification politely is to admit that they are unsure about what the speaker means (Kedrowicz, 2016). Doing so in such a way would not come out as rude, and would allow the speaker to reword their statement in a way that would be more understandable.
The other technique is to ask for repetition. Sometimes asking a speaker to repeat a given point allows them not just to reword what they said, but to also think about what they said and what they are about to say to eliminate any areas or aspects that might lead to a misunderstanding or confusion (Kedrowicz, 2016). Usually just repeating it once is enough to clarify what the client or coworker is saying and it eliminates any aspect if doubt or any potential for conjecture in case something has not been properly understood. Another tried and tested technique is to state what the speaker has said, just as one would understand it. This is a form of paraphrasing. The goal here is to check with the speaker to see if that is what they said or meant. It is not rude in any way, and it makes the speaker feel a sense of reassurance that the listener is committed to understanding what is being said (Kedrowicz, 2016).
Other techniques include asking for specific examples, the use of open but non-directive questions, but only when and where appropriate, along with asking if one has gotten it right, and then be prepared to be corrected (Revuelta, 2018). The goal here is not to come off as rude and to make an effort to understand what is being said. This allows for closing up any gaps of information that might be potentially filled in with wrong information. Subsequently, it allows for the proper execution of the relevant tasks without leaving any room for mistakes.
How to Communicate So that the Client/Coworker Will Listen and Understand
Being a good speaker is just as important as being a good listener. It also employs similar principles, with the first one being the use of face-to-face communication (Haldane et al., 2017). This form of communication is more personal, and, especially when speaking to a client or coworker, it is way more effective than alternatives present such as sending an email. With face-to-face communication, one can maintain eye contact with the listener, thereby guaranteeing their attention. It also welcomes real-time questions and requests for clarification which allows for a better understanding of what is being communicated, along with what is expected from the client or the coworker. It is also noted that with face-to-face communication, it is easier to discuss things more professionally and quickly, thereby saving both time and other resources needed (Kedrowicz, 2016).
Tying into face-to-face communication, as hinted above, is making eye contact. Making eye contact with a speaker ensures that one is listening (Kedrowicz, 2016). The speaker making eye contact with the listener ensures that they are listening as well. It also allows for a more engaging conversation which sees to it that the issues being discussed are understood. Making eye contact, as mentioned earlier as well, allows for the physical presence of both the speaker and the listener. This eliminates any potential for discrimination and prejudices, allowing for the information to be passed on as effectively and efficiently as possible (Kedrowicz , 2016). It is essential in ensuring that the objectives of a speech are achieved, and the goals set for a given project are achieved as well.
Participating in the conversation is also another aspect that will ensure that the client or coworker listens to what is being said. Communication goes both ways, from the speaker to the listener, and the other way around. It is important to participate in it, to stay engaged, even when one is the speaker. This involves giving ideas to various aspects of the conversation, being honest and being respectful as well while at it. Some of the other techniques that can be used include speaking openly and calmly, acknowledging the listener’s time, paying attention to non-verbal cues from the speaker and listening as well (Gaida et al., 2018). The objective is to involve all the parties in the conversation and to ensure that by the time the dialogue is done, everything is clearly understood. Employing these techniques would help in achieving that, and in the achievement of the goals facilitated by the conversation in the first place.
- Gaida, S., Härtl, A., Tipold, A., & Dilly, M. (2018). Communication identity in veterinary medicine: a grounded theory approach. Veterinary record open, 5(1), e000310.
- Haldane, S., Hinchcliff, K., Mansell, P., & Baik, C. (2017). Expectations of graduate communication skills in professional veterinary practice. Journal of veterinary medical education, 44(2), 268-279.
- Kedrowicz, A. A. (2016). The impact of a group communication course on veterinary medical students’ perceptions of communication competence and communication apprehension. Journal of veterinary medical education, 43(2), 135-142.
- Revuelta, G. (2018). Communication training at undergraduate level. An analysis of health and life sciences, environmental sciences and natural sciences.