Are we listening?

At work, at home, we’re hearing as part of our ear’s function. However, are we listening and following what others are trying to communicate? What about active listening?

Here, I’m trying to give the answer based on the content of some slides available from the Internet (29 Career Development Listening Skills, A Little Book Of Listening Skills For The Workplace). Most of the suggestions here are for being applied in the workplace. Yet, at the same time you can find them applicable at home and your daily life. It may take awhile to consume the slides, as well as consume the content. For the sake of simplicity, I would layout here some key points that are easy to remember and practice. A rule of thumb I’m applying here is that no more than 5 bullets to be easier remembering.

Symptoms of a poor listener or perhaps you’re not listening:

  1. Talk when others are talking?
  2. Often have to ask people to repeat themselves?
  3. Often interrupt others when they’re talking?
  4. Let your feelings for the speaker interfere with your listen ability?
  5. Jump to conclusions before the speaker is finished talking?

Well, it’s not that easy to prevent us from all of the behaviors above. But at least, if we’re aware of them, we can improve our listening skills.

Okay, so the question is what should I do to improve my listening skills (or in short: to listen)? There is a term so-called active listening that you certainly have heard. What is active listen, then? It is to listen beyond words in order to understand the deeper message. Active listeners are able to detect and reflect the feelings that give emotional energy to language.

You can find more tips to become an active listeners from the slides. Here, I just extracted the 5 I like the most :).

  1. Set aside my own feelings and prejudices. I’m here to listen.
  2. Pay attention to the speaker’s body language and expressions. And use body language in responses: Occassionally nod my head in agreement with what speaker is saying, not fold my arms:), make eye contact, smile.
  3. Use “door openers”. “Tell me more…”, “That sounds interesting…”, “When did it happen…”
  4. Ask non-threatening questions: how?, what?, could?
  5. Use acknoledgement responses: “mmm…”, “yes…”, “right…”, “certainly…”

In the 2nd slides, you can find many tips. I don’t think we can all remember and apply them. But we can always pick the top 5 that you like and you can remember. For me, they are:

  1. Be slow to disagree, argue or criticize
  2. Listen with a soft belly
  3. Learn to say NO
  4. Give up the need to be right
  5. Be mindful of age, race, and gender bias

You can learn more in details from the slides below. Hope it helps!

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