You probably are familiar with some outstanding speakers but how many outstanding listeners do you know? Not many people are good listeners. Research has found that 75% of oral communication is ignored, misunderstood or quickly forgotten. With this in mind, it appears as if there is an abundance of room in the system for good listeners.
For starters, there is a huge difference between merely hearing and listening. The act of listening, means more than just something physical, it is psychological engagement with someone. Listening is not a single skill but if genuinely practiced involves a number of skill areas.
The first of these is attending. When you are listening, you should not be looking somewhere else in the room but through your posture, eye contact and movement show the other person that you are focused and you are listening with your body as well as with your brain. The good communicators fully attend with their whole mind and body .
Following comes next. Following skills relate to how we follow up on what someone says to us. This might be a request such as “tell me more,” or “I would like to hear more about that.” This begins to bring out whatever is waiting to be said.
Paraphrasing recounts what the speaker has been saying only it is in the listener’s own words. This lets the speaker know you are really listening, and indicates understanding and acceptance.
Reflective responses provides a mirror to the speaker who knows that the emotion he is in is recognized. Reflective responses work because speakers don’t always want to spell out what they are really feeling.
Discover what it is that the speaker wants you to know and provide assurance that you are hearing, listening and absorbing.
Gregory B. Anderson–director