Why do you need to have good listening skills?
You might recall that several years ago on TV there was a public service announcement that talked about the importance of listening skills. The PSA differentiated between hearing, which is merely a physical ability, and listening, which is actually a skill. By being able to listen, we are able to effectively make sense of what another person is saying.
It greatly enhances our understanding and our overall abilities in life. It can also be vital in determining such vital perks as career promotion and generally opening doors that might otherwise not open to us.
Back in the year 1991, the United States Department of Labor released a report called the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills. This report detailed five competencies as well as three foundation skills that all individuals entering the work place should be in keen possession of. One of those skills was the ability to listen well.
In fact, it is hard to see how a bad listener could get through in life. But a lot of people do. You would be surprised. If you question your ability to listen, then at least you have taken the first step towards realizing your full potential – not merely as a professional, but as a human being as well.
What does listening allow me to do?
In a word, the better at listening you are, the more productive you will be in your career – and more opportunities will come to you. Those who are most skilled at listening are able to better understand work they have been given, as well as what is expected of them. Those who are unable to listen well, on the other hand, are more likely to fail when they are given an assignment, or to turn in work that is of much lower quality than is expected.
If you are a good listener, you should find it quite easy to establish positive working relationships with bosses, clients, as well as colleagues. Do you find that you have difficulty getting along with others in your profession, that people quite often avoid you? Then it might have a lot to do with how others perceive your listening skills. If you are perceived as a bad listener, then oftentimes people will try to avoid you altogether rather than spend the energy it requires to communicate complex matters to you. You might then find yourself missing out on a lot of opportunities that would come to you quite readily otherwise.
Good listeners are also quite adept at showing support in the work place. They are people who sense when something is going wrong, and then offer to “jump right in” when they are given the chance. This earns you a lot of respect. Try to be aware of things that are happening in your environment at all times – even if they do not directly concern you.
How can i listen better?
We will now take a look at some of the things you might do that will improve your listening skills. Performing the following deeds will give the person you are communicating with the idea that they are being listened to. Even though you might be able to listen perfectly well to what the other person is saying when you are staring down at the floor, the other person will still get the impression that they are not being listened to. This is why the first step to listening well is to always maintain eye contact with the individual who is speaking to you.
Furthermore, you should never interrupt a speaker. This is a sign that you are not listening. Even if you feel like you know what they are going to say next, this still does not give you the right to interrupt someone. In a word, it is quite rude, and it is a barrier to listening well.
Be aware of your body language when someone is speaking to you. Try not to fidget – sit still; allow your mind and body to concentrate at once. You can show various signs that you understand what the other person is telling you, such as nodding your head, or leaning towards the speaker.
What are some of the barriers to listening well?
There are also a lot of barriers to effective listening that many of us must struggle to overcome. These include prejudices or biases, which can be directed towards a particular speaker or towards the subject that is being discussed; differences in languages or accents, which cause some of us to immediately tune out; noise taking place in the work environment that detracts us from focusing on the matter at hand; a low attention span; or such negative emotions as fear, anger, or worry.
Once you overcome these barriers, you are on the road to becoming a better listener.