If you only send out clear messages, but fail to receive and comprehend them, then you fail to communicate effectively. For effective communication, you need good speaking and listening skills.
Receiving a message can be broken down into listening and hearing. Hearing is considered more of a physical action, where your ears pick up sound waves, which are then transported to your brain.
Developing active listening skills is considered to be of prime importance among effective listening techniques. As an active listener, you must have genuine interest in understanding the message. You must also want to grasp what the other person is feeling, before you respond with your own message.
One must then paraphrase their understanding of the message they received, and pass it back to the sender for verification. This feedback/verification process is at the crux of active listening.
Effective Listening Tips
- Effective listening strategies involve a number of practices. To start off, one must make an effort to block out external distractions. Try to focus on what the speaker is saying, and don't turn every time there is a sound or someone passing by.
- Resist the urge to daydream. While listening to the person speaking, it is fairly normal for your mind to wander off. However, you must make a conscious effort to focus on the subject at hand. If you are in a class, jotting down points will help.
- Understanding and correctly interpreting body language is an important part of effective listening. The message can only be interpreted correctly when it is received along with the body language.
- Pay attention to the tone as well, as it is vital for correct interpretation of the message. Sometimes it will give you insight into the speaker's emotions, and at other times, help you assess what is important and what is not.
- An essential aspect of effective listening, is having an open mind. Don't let your own personal beliefs about what is being said, prevent you from receiving the message. Try not to make judgments about the speaker or the message. While you don't have to agree with the message, you do have to accept it.
- If you fail to understand anything that is being said, don't hesitate to ask and clarify your doubts. If you can't interject just then, jot it down and ask for an explanation later.
- One big mistake that many make is being preoccupied on what they want to say. If you are focused on giving your opinion, all your attention will be directed towards waiting for an opportunity when you can interject. In the process you will fail to listen or grasp the message of the speaker.
In order to develop effective listening skills, a person must put the mentioned points into practice. Alternately, one can try out activities, such as role plays which will help in the same. You can ask a friend to help, and tell him/her to speak on a subject, while you practice effective listening.
You can then ask your friend to give you feedback. Good listening skills are an asset in all areas of your life. Being a good listener is the key to being a good partner, parent, and friend. If you are a student, it can revolutionize your studying habits.
The importance of effective communication in the workplace cannot be emphasized enough. Lack of effective listening by employees can translate into lost dollars if instructions have to be repeated and assignments redone. If the management fails to listen to and understand employees, it will lead to frustration, demotivation, and a bad work environment.