Friday, October 9, 2015

Notes on Listening

     Listening is the receiving part of the communication process, but simply sensing what was said is just the beginning. When you listen, according to Webster's New World Dictionary, you make "conscious effort to hear."
     Studies show that we remember only about 25 percent of what we hear. Although most people speak about 120-10 words per minute, people can listen about six times as fast. Our brains simply work faster than our mouths. This "rate gap" helps explain why our minds sometimes start to wander while we listen.

Four Ways to Listen
  1. Appreciative listening
  2. Discriminative listening
  3. Emphatic listening
  4. Critical listening
Why Listening Matters

     Good listeners encourage speakers to do their best. Listening is a way of saying the talker. Effective listening involves not only tuning in to others, but tuning in to ourselves as well. Listening carefully to what we say and how we say it can teach us an immense amount about ourselves.
     Listening is a thinking skill, because it requires us to be selective with our attention, to classify and categorize information, and to sort out important principles and concepts from a stream of facts, jokes, and stories.

A Small Price to Pay
     To listen we must pay attention. In listening, we pay out our most personal assets--time, interest, and effort--to receive something in return: information, entertainment, and comfort.
     Researchers say that many of our most deeply held convictions come form things we hear, not things we read.

Listening Bad Habits
  1. Tune out dull topics
  2. Fake attention
  3. Yield to distractions
  4. Criticize delivery or physical appearance
  5. Jump to conclusions
  6. Overreact to emotional words
  7. Interrupt
  8. Filters
     Information goes through many filters when it passes from speaker to listener. Listeners filter what they hear based on their backgrounds and personalities.

Some Filters That Can Distort

  1. Education
  2. Biases
  3. Attitude
  4. Age
  5. Experience
  6. Emotion
  7. Religion
  8. Family
  9. Physical Condition
  10. Morals
     Improving your ability to listen is largely a matter of mental conditioning. Anytime you feel your emotional barriers or filters start to rise, make a conscious effort to:
  1. Refrain from judging or evaluating the speaker
  2. Focus you attention on the message
  3. Search for areas where you agree
  4. Keep an open mind
Not everyone shares the same beliefs. If you encounter a speaker having contradictory beliefs, you should:
  1. Be patient
  2. Pay closer attention to body language
  3. Hold your temper when you disagree
  4. Try Hard to put yourself in the speaker's position
Effective Listening Strategies

     To become a good listener, you must stay alert on several fronts at once, working with earths, eyes, and your whole being. Total body listening means, for starters, adopting the right posture for listening: face the speaker, establish eye contact, and block out distractions. Lean forward and nod occasionally. Good listening requires all of our senses and plenty of mental energy.

Listening to a Speech

    The beginning may be the most entertaining part of the speech--because the speaker is doing his/her utmost to gain your attention--but is usually not the most important. Somewhere shortly after the beginning of a speech, the speaker will state the main idea of the talk. Once you find the main idea, your listening job becomes much easier. Rather than hanging on every word as a speech begins, you should think about the title of the speech and make a few guesses about what direction the speaker might take.
     Be a critical listener during the body of the speech. Your main goal is to understand the speaker's message and intent. Another part of evaluating the accuracy and fairness of what you hear is determining whether any bias lurks in the speech.
    During the last part of a speech, the listener must be on guard for emotional appeals and propaganda, material designed to distort the truth or deceive the audience. Your job as a listener is to recognize whether the speaker is trying to mislead you. As a speaker ends her speech, ask yourself whether he/she has earned whatever acceptance or support the speaker is asking you to give.

Use Your Listening Spare Time to Advantage

Explore - one way to use your spare listening time is to explore what lies ahead in the speech by asking, "What does this person what me to believe?"

Analyze - another way to spend your listening spare time is to analyze the speaker's message. As the speaker makes arguments and defends assertions, ask yourself, "Are these reasons, examples, and facts, convincing? Are things exactly as the speaker says they are? Does this information match what I already know? Is he leaving anything out?"

Review - Speakers usually allow time for listeners to catch their breath. They may pause to make a transition: "Now let me talk about . . ." These moments give the listener an opportunity to review.

Search for Hidden Meanings - Throughout a speech, lecture, or presentation, listeners should listen "between the lines" in search of hidden meanings. Often what a person doesn't say may be as important as what she does say.

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