The art of effective listening

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Listening your ears back, paying attention to what the other person is saying and taking note of it. When you listen, you register whatever you-listen in your mind. Evidently, this calls for a focus, paying heed and applying your mind on what is being spoken. Listening is an important workplace skill and can be said to a dexterity by itself. Unless you listen well, you will not be able to comprehend others. And a failure to comprehend others invariably leads to relationships getting fractured, team-spirit being dwindled and eventually productivity taking a beating.

It needs to be understood that it is only through the medium of listening that problems are resolved, relationships are nurtured and comprehension across various planes achieved. Listening thus has implications for our personal and professional lives. It helps you to get involved in consultations, parleys and other interactions that result in shared understanding of or agreement on an issue. So, how do you develop the art of effective listening?

Here are some tips:

Maintain eye contact: If a person does not pay proper attention to what you speak, you evidently conclude his or her disinterest in you and it is true when you do likewise. Because of reasons of propriety, people may not say anything disparaging, but it is wrong alright. Eye contact is the fundamental component of effective communications. You need to look at the other person’s face when a point is being made to ensure that the conversation draws you towards him or her. If you avoid doing so, it could be misconstrued as your reticence, lack of confidence or even guilt.

Be all ears but remain undisturbed: Eye contact does not imply remaining tense. You need not gawk  directly at the other person for every second of the conversation. The significant aspect is being alert to and focused at what the other person is speaking. You should try to shield yourself from distractions like other happenings around you, including clamours and clatters. Good listening skills imply ignoring the other person’s inflection or drawl. Concurrently, you should not allow yourself to be distracted by your own thoughts and prejudices.

Have an open mind: You have to guard against any impulse to evaluate the person speaking or condemn points being made by him or her. Judgmental perplexities hamper your listening skills. It is important that you do not jump at conclusions prematurely and try to complete sentences if the other person is grappling with words.

Pay attention to words & envision what is being spoken about: You should let your mind create a facsimile of what the other person is speaking. This will help you to concentrate on him or her fully. Key points made or key words spoken should be registered.

Refrain from interrupting It is bad-manners to interrupt anybody while he or she is speaking. If you do so, you communicate the other person’s triviality in your eyes and speaks poorly of your upbringing. If you happen to be a quick thinker and an agile talker, you should take it easy so that the other person is at ease. Unless the other person is at ease, the dialogue will be meaningless.

Seek clarifications only when the speaker pauses: There is nothing wrong in clearing your mind of doubts. But you should ask questions only when the speaker pauses or has finished. In case, it has been made known that you could seek clarifications at the end, you should wait for it.

Ask genuine questions: Do not ask questions just for the sake of asking. Your queries should be related to the issue at hand because any deviation from this could lead a speaker away from the main topic. In case, such a thing happens, good communication skills demand that you get the dialogue back on track.

Author: SEEMA CHOPRA