Effective Listening Skills

Introduction

Effective listening refers to the ability of an individual to take in information from other sources, synthesize it, infer and interpret to his or other people’s benefit. It is essential in that one adopts listening skills because people are often more focused on what they are saying than on what they are hearing. Listening is difficult because people don’t work as hard at it as they should to perfect it (Kratz, 1994). Listening happens naturally and putting a lot of effort into it is unnecessary. Even though, effective listening calls for hard work, determination to get it right and effort to perfect this art. As a business studies student, I need to develop good listening skills as it is required that auditors listen to explanations, arguments, defenses of financial ethics and methods and must draw reasonable conclusions from the information tabled to them. They must always communicate with fellow employees whose backgrounds differ diversely.

Essence of effective listening skill

Effective listening skills are very vital to my success as a business person as it helps me various ways. First, it helps to reduce stresses, anxiety, uncertainty, dishonesty, mistrust among other bad virtues within the business organization. With this in mind therefore, the organization should provide a favorable environment where every employee feels free to express his or her own views without fear. These skills also help me to become an active listener who pays attention to the speaker, analyzes and summarizes the conversation, does not react negatively to criticism, but rather acknowledges them thus having a productive conversation leading to true understanding of all the parties involved (Kratz, 1994). Effective listening will also make management of the organization easier as it boosts the morale of the workers leading to high effectiveness and productivity.

Further, effective listening skills help one to pay keen attention the speaker, thus removing anticipation which can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. Finally, effective listening skills assist one to judge the information given whether to believe it or not, depending on how it compares to my personal knowledge, or the way it is conveyed.

Active Listening and Collaboration

Active listening refers to a multi-step process, including making emphatic comments, asking appropriate questions, and paraphrasing and summarizing for the purposes of verification (Reed, 1985). The goal is to develop a clear understanding of the speaker’s concern and also clearly communicate the listener’s interest in the speaker’s message. In addition, use of active listening skills helps establish an amiable trusting relationship with the employers and/or the clients. It is also important in developing appropriate management plans. Active listening is a structured form of listening and response that focuses the attention on the speaker. Active listening demands that the receiver of a message shun the belief that listening is easy and that it happens naturally, rather realize that effective listening is hard work (Reed, 1985).therefore, what you get by active listening is clarity of thought and therefore effective communication.

Through collaboration, people get to work together at the workplace and ensure they work as a team. Through working as a team and collaboratively, optimum work targets are reached easily thereby improving efficiency, recognition of the company. The company therefore can withstand competition for finite resources. Collaboration being a structured process, people should work together as a team towards a common goal, and this refers to involving everybody in the discussion through initiating and sustaining dialogues that continue to engage each party. Further, it involves sharing ideas, learning from others and gaining mutual respect. This refers to the art of facilitating collaboration by being both in servitude and leadership in discussion/conversation, losing any pride, not being flustered by unexpected events, respecting everyone, and having a learner’s mind (Reed, 1985). Each of these seems to rely on an ability to relay and share power among individuals by listening and encouraging active listening within the group. Engaging one another gives them confidence by listening and reinforcing the importance of their ideas by being liberal and open minded. Once we have initiated and sustained a conversation on these principles, much of the initial barrier to communication is removed and we are able to communicate with the other party freely without fear. We therefore become confident and coherence of thought and are able to reason critically and deductively.

Benefits of Active listening

Active listening is important in that it encourages people to listen attentively to others. Moreover, misunderstandings are avoided; as an individual will confirm that he/she do fathom what the other has said. In addition, active listening tends to open people up, get them say more and express themselves freely (Reed, 1985).

Methods of Effective listening

There are many methods of effective listening and include encouraging the speaker: This can take many forms such as practicing silence, keenness, maintaining neutrality (Kratz, 1994). Except for recognition that you’re following along, such as a semi-verbal “uh-huh” or a head nod. This means that one is paying attention. This will in turn encourage the speaker to carry on and also help the listener to understand everything thing that is being said. Another method of effective listening is paraphrasing (Kratz, 1994). This can be achieved by rephrasing and restating what the speaker said in other words different from what he used to allow him confirm that you have fathomed the message. This helps him in identifying the major points of emphasis by the speaker, i.e. subject matter of the conversation. Expressing feeling and showing some responsibility is another method of effective listening. This can be by using reflective statements, that is, words that retell important words or phrases that the speaker uses, then summarize what you have just heard and repeat it back to the speaker. Lastly, summarizing is a method of effective listening. This can be by concluding the information given and restating the part of the conversation sometimes after the initial conversation had happened (Kratz, 1994).

In my plan to become a better listener it is imperative that I be ready to listen to the speaker whenever necessary, being attentive to the speaker’s message, Having a positive attitude and avoiding prejudgment, and lastly but not the least noting down important points to form the basis for the discussion topic. For me to become a better communicator, I must avoid giving unnecessary and un-useful information and only give that which is important. Further, it is essential to observe the listener’s mood and expectations and always ensure that there is clarity of thought and that my statements do not contradict. The information I give should be true and valid and not based on hearsay I must always be keen not to hurt my listener’s feelings by avoiding negative remarks about them.

References

Kratz, D.M. (1994). Effective Listening Skills. New York: Irwin Professional Publishing.

Reed, Warren H. (1985). Positive listening: learning to hear what people are really saying. New York: F. Watts. ISBN 0-531-09583-5.

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