In Speech Pathology practice, as in life, the first and most important skill to develop is listening.
In business, you soon learn that everyone has their own challenges and blocking behaviours when it comes to listening.
Some of these blocks are:
- Too busy
- Will only listen to something that we perceive will be of interest to us
- Boring topic / material / presentation technique
- Our environment
Listening takes up a lot of a manager’s time. It has been estimated that managers spend between 60-80% of their time communicating with people. On the average the communication breaks into:
- Writing 9%
- Reading 16%
- Talking 30%
- Listening 45%
Despite this evidence, studies have shown that 75% of oral communication is lost, ignored or misunderstood, and that the remaining 25% is forgotten within weeks. These figures demonstrate the need for a greater focus on applying effective listening skills.
For effective listening, we need to:
- Receive. That is, to gather all incoming signals, both verbal and non-verbal.
- Consider. That is, to make sense of what you have heard, what it means and associate it to your own past experiences.
- Respond. That is, to ask questions and reinforce your own understanding.
We can improve our listening skills by making an effort to:
- Deliberately look for something interesting in what is being said
- Work out the key points of what is being said
- Look interested to encourage the speaker
- Do not be distracted by environmental noise or movement
- Think about what is being said
- Move occasionally, if you feel your attention is drifting
- Write down key words and points
- Keep pace with the speaker and don’t go back to what was said earlier
- Respond to the content and not the delivery
- Be prepared to receive and appreciate new ideas
Remember, that there is a difference between talking to someone and talking with someone, just as there is a difference between hearing someone and listening to someone.
Consideration should also be given to the concept of implied appreciation. If someone has research to present, a topic to discuss that they are passionate about, an emotional need to express themselves, a fond memory to share or a discussion about a topic of interest to them, we should
appreciate the fact they that are sharing and engaging us in the exchange, hoping that we will in turn, appreciate the content.
It is of course in our best interest to listen carefully. A good listener will receive, interpret, analyse and remember the incoming information. When information has a firm semantic base and is meaningful to us, we form a stronger memory trace of it.
Retrieval of that information is now so much easier. Listening is a skill that requires awareness, focus and training. In your business, management, clinical or personal life, it is essential.
Now listen to me……….. “Hearing is easy, listening takes effort”.