10 Most Useful Guidelines To Improve One’s Listening Ability

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Ozzias T. Villaver, Jr., Ed.D. | ExecutiveChronicles

Research reveals that managers spend more of their time than they do reading, writing, or speaking.   Basically, there four phases in effective listening, namely, (a) hearing, which refers to when the speaker’s words are received by the listener; (b) attention, which involves the selective perception of verbal messages.  Usually a listener gets the key/ important ideas or phrases; (c) Understanding, which requires an accurate interpretation and evaluation of the message. One of the most effective ways to ensure understanding is to have the listener recap the major points; and, (d) Remembering, which entails the retaining of the essence of the message either by taking or maintaining a file.

Thus, to improve the ability of listening, here are the ten most useful guidelines:

  1. Ensure that the physical environment is conducive to listening by closing the door, shutting out noise, and sitting or standing close to the other person.
  2. Concentrate all of your physical and mental energies on listening to the other person.
  3. Control your emotions by not getting upset at what the speaker says.
  4. Try to be objective by listening to the logic and consistency of the message.
  5. Demonstrate and interest and an alertness in what is being said throughout the discussion.
  6. Do not interrupt unless the speaker is confronting you by the order and logic of the presentation.
  7. Encourage the speaker by nodding when you agree or understand a major point, and refrain from shaking your head “no” because this often throws the speaker off.
  8. Listen closely for meanings and content but do not get hung up on specific words that are either used incorrectly or erroneously by the speaker.
  9. Demonstrate patience with the speaker by acting calm and collected; give the speaker a chance to fully and completely explain what he or she has to say.
  10. As you listen, be sure you are fulfilling your basic responsibilities to the speaker by remembering –
  • to concentrate on being appreciative, courteous, and kind (if it is informal discussion)
  •  to focus on fact, logic, and objectivity (if this is formal discussion)
  • to pinpoint details, follow the logic as clearly as possible, and be prepared to ask for additional clarity and explanation where needed (if this a critical discussion)

It must be observed also that to be an effective listener, both and during the listening process, the manager must be able to give and get feedback. Feedback keeps the communication process going and ensures a continual flow of ideas back and forth.

(Reference: Hoggetts, Richard M. and Kuratko, Donald F. Management. Second Edition. New York: HARDCOURT BRACE JOVANOVICH, PUBLISHERS. 2000.)