Effective Listening Skill

What exactly is effective listening skill? It is definitely not just hearing what someone has to say with our ears about something. Listening is actually a skill which one will have to develop if we are to improve our communications with our fellow friends, family members, bosses and colleagues.

Hearing usually involves the use of our ears of which sound comes to our ear and we recognise it as music, words or traffic passing by. In this respect, we are able to quickly recognise what sound we should hear and vice versa. For example, if your house is located near a highway, you will be hearing the sound of vehicles passing nearby almost every minute. Over time, you will be able to selectively turn off this sound from your mind and it will not bother you. Many times, we treat our conversation with our friends or family members just like that.

We will choose to hear only what we wanted or expected to hear from them. If the topic is not of particular interest to us, we will just shut off the conversation from our mind even though we are physically still talking to the person.

Effective listening skill is a deliberate act of our will and decision. This act of listening demand you to not have any pre-conceived idea of what the other person will be responding. In other words, remove any filter in your mind about the person that you are listening to.

You will have to concentrate your mind in listening to what the other person is talking. It is important to look at the person and the body movement as this will add to what the person is trying to convey.

One of effective listening skill is asking the right question and letting the other party talk. Use open ended questions instead of close ended questions. Close ended questions will get a short answer.

Close ended questions usually start with:

  • Are ...e.g. Are you the youngest in your family?
  • Who ...e.g. Who is your favorite movie star?
  • When ...e.g. When did you graduate from college?
  • Where ...e.g. Where did you attend your high school?
  • Do ...e.g. Do you like meeting people?

Open ended questions usually start with:

  • How ...e.g. How did you do in your last public examination?
  • What ...e.g. What are your goals in life?
  • Why ...e.g. Why did you resign from your last job?
  • Tell me ...e.g. Tell me more about yourself?
  • Describe ...e.g Describe your personality in greater details.

Why is effective listening skill important in our daily lives?

  • Save Us Time and Trouble In times of fire emergency, listening to instruction from the policemen or firemen are extremely important. Listening wrongly may cause us our lives. For those whose work involves following a series of instructions from the production supervisor, the wrong message received can cause the whole product or processes to be damaged. In our homes, listening skill is especially important as many breakdowns in marriages started with misinterpretation of what the other spouse is trying to communicate. This is critical since one may tend to take the other spouse for granted after living together for such a long time. Similarly, misunderstanding between neighbours happen when one fails to listen to what the other party is trying to say.
  • Potrays Our Image I am sure you have met people of whom you can confide with. In most cases, this person is someone whom you respect because he listens to all that you have to say. He is not someone who is out there just to advise you and immediately goes off after that. Similarly, one should not be hurry when conversing with someone. As you do that more and more, many will trust you as someone whom they can go to for advice in times of difficulty.
  • Keeps Us Informed In the age of information technology, there are still many information that are communicated verbally especially in social events setting. Ever wonder why you do not seem to be informed of many happenings around you? It could be that you are not taking the time and effort to listen to what others have to say. If you are someone who tend to talk more than you listen, try doing the reverse and you will be amazed at how much information you have gathered.

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