Listening ia as important in conversation as talking. Good listening Involves encouraging other people to say interesting things, understanding the things that they tell you, and being sensitive to the thoughts and feelings that underline the things that they tell you.
Listening must be active as well as passive. It is not enough just to listen: you must show that you are listening. Body, face, eyes and voice - all that should be combine to tell the other person that you are taking in what he or she is saying. Good listening will bring out the best in your partner in conversation.
1) THINKING AS YOU LISTEN
- To listen well you need mental concentration, generosity, and self-confidence.
- To be a better listener, think less about yourself and more about the conversation.
- Focus on the other person and on what he or she is saying.
- Respond positively to initiatives other people make in conversation.
- You may have to be reassuring, at another supportive, at another understanding.
- Remember: Conversation is almost always indirect. Often, the most important messages of a conversation are left unsaid. Must be ready to deduce them and be alert to what lies behind another persons's word.
- Use You Eyes As Well As Your Ears.
2) ENCOURAGING AND LISTENING
a) Maintain Eye Contact
Good listener is someone that looks at the speakers. Never make mistake of feigning eye contact by looking at an area near the speaker's eyes.
Try a trick used by President John Kennedy. When people look and listen they tend to focus on one eye rather than both. Kennedy, however, would look from one eye to eye when he listened, softening the expression in his own eyes at the same time, and so giving the impression that he cared greatly about the speaker's feelings.
Don't overdo your interjections-or the speaker may feel over-whelmed, or mocked.
b) Make the Right Noises
Its are vital for keeping the conversation going. Assure the speaker that you understand what he or she is telling you by making appropriate sounds and exclamations - 'mm', 'yes', 'right'. Show your involvement by summarizing the story so far or repeating something.
To avoid misunderstanding, try to be precise in your vocal encouragements. If, for instance, you do not necessarily agree with everything the speaker is saying, use expressions such as 'possibly','perhaps' 'I'm not so sure'.
c) Use Appropriate Facial Expressions
The expressions that across your face send out signals - so make sure they are encouraging ones.
Listens with relaxed, responsive face and uses nods of the head, warm smiles, even twitches of the eyebrows to give encouragement.
d) Adopt a Relaxed Stillness
Most people appreciate how rude it is to get up and walk away when someone else is talking. Yet many fail to realize how smallest gestures can indicate a similar level of distraction. Good listeners keep relatively still, only shifting position occasionally. If you constantly fiddling or fidgeting you will appear inattentive. You will be equally unnerving as a listener if you sit or stand rigidly to attention, tapping a foot or fingers - giving the impression that you are in hurry to hear the speaker out.
3) IMPROVING YOUR LISTENING SKILLS
Practice will help you to improve your listening skills. Two simple exercises:
- Listen to interviews on the radio and television. Pay particular attention to the people being interviewed. What are they saying? What are the thoughts, emotions and feelings behind what they saying? You can do the same exercise when attending lectures and talks.
- Take a few minutes every day to sit in a quite room. and then close your eyes and do nothing but listen. Listen for specific sounds and identify them. This exercise will help you to forget youself and to turn outwards.
Book: Khan, J. E., Kerr-Jarrett, A., Chalker, S., Cohan, A., Davies, P., Jones, N., Khan, O., Morris, P., Scott-Macnab, D., Spurling, R., Swords-ISherwood, N. and Sylvester, L. (2001). How To Write & Speak Better. Published by The Reader's Digest Association Limited, London.