Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills

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What would you define ‘listening’ as? Probably the first word that would strike you as its synonym is ‘Hearing’, or to some other scientific geeks it may be defined as the audio waves that penetrate your ear lobe, vibrate your ear drum and is then understood by the brains.

What I understand of the word listening is that it is an integral part of our day. Generally more than half of our day involves listening to something or the other. Whether it’s your boring professor going on monotonously about economic growth, or your boss pointing out only your mistakes, your friends talking eagerly about their shopping, the television you are watching or maybe even the traffic noises that you are stuck in.

It also is a fact that in a communication of ten minutes, only 70 percent is actually paid attention to, and out of that only 25 percent is retained, and the rest forgotten in 48 hours. Now hopefully you have realized how dangerous this could be! Communication is the basis of everything you do in your life, from the day you are born you communicate by wailing for your first independent breath. More than speaking, I feel listening is more important for communication. To talk to each other, you first to hear and comprehend what the other person is saying to retaliate or answer.

To speak, you must learn to first listen. An infant is taught language by again and again speaking to him. He picks up from what he listens to.

In lot of places such as U.S.A especially listening has become a habit in the back ground, it plays no role in the actual consciousness. The epidemic of non-listening is fast spreading in the U.S.A.

This leads to problems faced by people due to the lack of listening skills. Many professors in U.S.A have observed that when they dictate an assignment, or suddenly ask a question to any random student, more than half of them seemed to be dreaming or doing something different. Apart from concentration issues, these professors believe that the lack of listening skills leads to such issues. They have realized that listening is a far more complex phenomenon than it is usually thought of to be. Many a times people need a second or third round of repetition to completely comprehend the discussion.

I would say that this problem has not been developed by us, rather inculcated in us. Have you ever noticed- we are always taught how to read and write, but not listen. We have never been trained to listen. We have always given speaking and voicing our opinions the highest priority. In truth to be good communicators, we need to first know how to listen.

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As the saying goes it is never late for anything, let us look at few ways in which you could start improving your listening skills:

Avoid Distractions: Internal or external: Probably you cannot get rid of your tensions that could lead to distractions but you can always shut away all the noises created around you when you are in an important conversation.

Aid your Listening: You can jot down notes every time you have hear something important. This not only polishes this skill but also increases your retaining capacity.

Non-Verbally Communicate: To actively participate in the conversation you could nod your head, raise your eyebrow or adjust your self accordingly. It is very necessary to maintain eye contact with the speaker.

Filter according to Importance: Especially when you are listening to a lecture, try segregating and remembering only the important points, by either running them through your mind again and again or noting it down.

Express Empathy: Especially when you are in an informal conversation such as with your friend, and something about his life is being shared with you make sure you make him realize that you know what he is talking about.

People sometimes Just want you to Listen: The speakers many-a-times can just be expessing their point of view; you do not need to give feedback.

Don’t Interrupt: Keep your comments and questions for the end of the conversation.

Stay Focused: Especially during those times, when topics that do not interest you are being spoken on.

Stay Calm: Especially in the corporate world, where people might irritate you beyond belief, there is no need of an outburst from your side. Clarity in points from your side will always gain you credibility.

In a conversation, the best way you can compliment or respect the other person is not only by paying close attention to his words but also understanding the essence of what has been spoken. This makes it clear to them that we are ready to give them our most valued commodity – time.

Listening can build a bond between people and expand your connections. It could boost your efficiency at your work place and also in your personal relations. You could probably earn one of the greatest and most rare compliments – “I like her, she is such a good listener”.