Listening Importance of Listening Skills11/04/2020
Listening is a significant part of communication process. Communication cannot take place until and unless a message is heard and retained thoroughly and positively by the receivers/listeners. Listening is a dynamic process. Listening means attentiveness and interest perceptible in the posture as well as expressions. Listening implies decoding (i.e., translating the symbols into meaning) and interpreting the messages correctly in communication process.
Importance of Listening in Business Communications
(i) Active Listening Works
Active listening takes place when a listener focuses his full attention on the speaker, avoids interrupting the speaker, remains nonjudgmental and shows genuine interest in the speaker. In addition to hearing the words, full attention allows the listener to understand what’s being implied and read nonverbal clues such as body language and facial expressions that may contradict verbal words. Fully engaging in the discussion or conversation is one of the most important aspects of active listening. An open, inviting posture and occasional small verbal comments such as “yes” or “I understand” can help uncover the root of most problems.
(ii) Importance of Listening in Conflict Resolution
Workplace disputes and unhappy customers disrupt productivity and create an inefficient work environment. An ability to listen can, however, turn a disruptive situation into an opportunity for growth. If an upset coworker or dissatisfied customer feels she is truly being heard, it can help to calm the situation, relieve negative feelings and provide an opportunity for real problem solving to begin. Effective listening is a way of showing true concern for the speaker and their situation. This increases interpersonal bonding, forming a basis for commitment and trust.
(iii) Productivity and the Listening Organization
Effective listening can produce unintended results that ultimately benefit both the business and the speaker. For example, when a department takes the time to really listen to employees, she hears not only what they’re saying but gets insight into what makes each employee tick. The better a manager understands his employees the more effectively he can motivate employees. This makes it easier for a manager to choose appropriate rewards such as public vs. private praise, additional responsibilities or a greater degree of independence.
(iv) Importance of Listening in Perception Management
A small business’s reputation can make or break its chances for future success and profitability. Good listening skills can prevent misunderstandings, ensure a first encounter creates a positive impression and help maintain a small business’ good reputation. On the customer side, word-of-mouth is powerful advertising medium. Taking the time to listen and get it right the first time creates an impression that has the potential to exponentially spread.
(v) Creating Powerful Working Relationships
Listening is a key component in establishing effective working relationships between employee groups and between management and staff, but is is just as important when dealing with suppliers or vendors. It’s all part of creating efficient working relationships that not only saves both side valuable time but can have potentially significant benefits. For example, strong relationships can benefit a small business when sales revenues are low and the business could benefit from an extended line of credit.
Approaches to Listening
Listening can be classified from a mere show-off to the wholehearted act:
- Pretending to listen
In such listening the listener faces the speaker, across the table or on the phone line, as long as he speaks and then switches off without registering the message. This is mere hearing and not listening.
- Selective listening
This is the case when one edits the message as takable and not takable. In the case of an important message, selective listening leads to partial fulfillment of the instructions.
- Superficial listening
This is the case when the listener takes in only the words but not the spirit of the message. (Some writers classify this as “attentive listening but this is an ironical term. In the normal sense attentive listening is good, while in this technical sense, “attentive listening” means a mere show off of listening. Another such ironical technical term is “precious writing”, which means overuse or inexpert use of decorative words.)
- Emphatic listening
This term conveys full emphasis on the act of listening and taking in the entire message in word and spirit. The listener takes in the tone, the pauses, and the body language related to the words. Emphatic listening is necessary to move from one’s preconceived stand. The listener’s openness makes him ready to be influenced.
- Dynamic (mutually creative) listening
Here, listening is a creative process in which the listener contributes to the meaning that is being conveyed. He adds his energy to that of the speaker to generate “synergy.” Collective acts are achieved through dynamic listening. It helps to bring out the best in the speaker.
- Intuitive listening
Intuition, hunch or sixth sense is the power that is above reason. It leads to a direct insight into the truth. For an intuitive listener, a mere hint, an undertone or a silence is enough to read the other person’s mind.
Intuition is nurtured when one listens to high quality music or finds natural or meditative solitude. Deep listeners have the power to develop a hunch about what is said. A good mother knows a child’s mood by intuitive listening.
Barriers to Effective Listening
- Poor hearing
If one’s sense of hearing is defective, listening is impaired. On becoming aware of it, one should get medical help.
- Listener’s chain of thoughts
The mind is almost always active, thinking its own thoughts. These may become rapid and loud from time to time, marring one’s receptivity.
- A too heavy message
Use of jargon or over compression of ideas may make an oral message too heavy for the listener.
- Rapid or accented talk
One has this experience when listening for the first time to certain foreign radio stations. While the broadcast is clear to the regular listeners and those at home with the speakers’ accent, for others there is a bar to listening.
- Listener’s self-importance or prejudice
If the listener has put himself above the speaker, there is no receptive attitude. There is a “know-all” air in the listener and little regard for the speaker. Also, if the listener conceives a prejudice against the speaker, or has prejudices on the topic of the message, the listening is hindered.
- Misunderstanding about the role of a listener
Some listeners may not be aware of what their role in a particular situation is. They may think that it is the speaker’s responsibility to explain everything properly. They may belittle their own role as that of a one-way receiver. They may think that the role of the speaker gives the other party an overriding importance.
- Cultural gap
If the speaker and the listener have different cultural habits, the listening may be incomplete. The listener may assign different importance to a word or phrase than is meant. While Orientals are used to an elaborate style of addressing a gathering, westerners are often quite brief about it. But this can be distracting to an easterner.
Some people listen while eating, drinking or doing handiwork. In such cases the attention is divided. A busy manager, for instance, may try to listen while filing papers or opening the mail. This may mar the listening.
If the receiver considers him superior and is not willing to listen, this ego problem acts as a stumbling block in the listening process.