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Listen up! Are people really listening? What is listening and why is it important? This paper will address the viewpoint of listening skills and its outcome. Listening is an essential tool, which is one of the constructive aspects in the communication process, for communicating with other people. To listen well is a talent that is learned. However, for people to listen effectively, they would need to practice to obtain the skill. “As with any new skill, learning to listen takes effort, attention, and practice” (Stewart, 2006, p. 202).Listening skills allow people to make sense of and understand what another person is saying. In other words, listening skills allow people to identify with the meaning of what other people are talking about.
Listening skills is a skill that is a useful sensible approach for doing what is appropriate when it comes to communicating with other people. In today’s society, listening has become a modern way of life since people are always listening to something, such as the television, the radio, or merely a conversation with family and friends. Stewart (2006) comments that “about 45 percent of our day are spent on listening” (p. 199). However, the attention span for some people needs improvement, especially if they are easily distracted.
Consistency should be a concept of listening and the only way to make this happen is by practice. In other words, people can develop a habit to be able to communicate their knowledge of what the other person is talking about. For example, if a speaker talks about the need to improve various types of environmental issues in our society, the listener or receiver should be able to execute his or her listening skills to clarify what was addressed by questioning and summarizing the speaker’s theory.
The following characterizations are based on listening skills: awareness, interpretation, and questioning. Although developing listening skills is a matter of choice, it is imperative everyone accomplish effective listening habits to avoid misunderstanding in all relationships.
The first aspect of listening is to learn how to listen effectively. In today’s society, communicating appropriately has everything to do with listening effectively. Learning to be a good listener will help improve all relationships both professionally and personally. If people do not know how to listen well, they can easily be distracted and their mind will start to wander. Since listening plays an essential role in the communication process, developing listening skills are important because they will help interpret what the speaker is saying during feedback. In other words, the listener should be able to respond to what the speaker talked about for clarification purposes.
There are three types of listening strategies that would be beneficial to ensure effective communication with other people. Hybels and Weaver (2007) state that “active listening, critical listening, and empathic listening are three different tactics that can be used in diverse situations” (p. 92). For instance, critical listeners focal point is to listen with determination and an open mind. They need to recognize and expect to learn something new from the speaker and ask questions about their viewpoints, such as an election. Critical listeners analyze the statement of all the members involved to decide who to vote for. In other words, critical listeners’ need to try to understand the speaker’s speech before they evaluate the information.
A second instance is that of empathic listeners. Their center of attention involves listening with emotion-they actually understand and can relate to how the speaker is feeling. I actually had an overwhelming experience concerning this specific aspect of effective listening. For example, after my husband passed away two years ago, I expressed my emotions with my mom often. My mom always listened with full attention to my tone of voice and other relevant signals, such as body language and facial expression-she was able to see and feel the message I was sharing about the ordeal I was going through. My mom listened patiently and shared the pain and love I had for my husband. Moreover, my mom could relate to the emotions I was feeling about the passing of my husband, since she experienced similar emotions when her mom passed away in 1990. In other words, empathic listeners attempt to imagine what the speaker had gone through. Consequently, empathic listeners usually lead the conversation to self-disclosure, which is when “people tell each other something personal they would not disclose to everyone” (Hybels & Weaver, 2007 p. 168).
The final instance for listening types is that of active listeners, which entails reflection. Specifically, active listeners listen intensively to the speaker so that they would be able to express what was said, by paraphrasing or summarizing their statement. Furthermore, active listeners repeat in their own words what the speaker discussed for clarification purposes.
Overall, people listen to acquire information and the impact of these listening techniques will certainly lead to thriving professional and personal relationships.
The second aspect of listening is to avoid the barriers to efficient listening. Since words can be influential, there are some issues that may get in the way of listening effectively, such as bias, accents, and noise. These specific matters will result in poor listening communication because there are some people who are collective listeners because of their favoritism toward specific speakers; the language is not clear due to diverse accents, and depending on the surroundings, the interference of loud sounds.
In addition, there are other barriers that can make listening difficult as well. Hybels and Weaver (2007) note that, “most people are not ready to listen well, physically, mentally, and behaviorally” and adds that some people are too lazy to listen, some avoid eye contact while listening, and some have a very short attention span” (p. 88). Since these are some of the most mutual obstacles to effective listening, to learn how to listen will take practice and diligence to obtain concentration. However, there are some valuable strategies people could do to avoid listening barriers, such as preparing to listen with appropriate eye contact, concentrating on what the speaker is saying to determine the speaker’s meaning, and taking notes to consider what was discussed. In short, “â€¦savor the conversationâ€¦” (Stewart, 2006 p. 201).
Ideally, there are plenty of barriers that occur to block people from listening properly. Once awareness is accomplished, people will be able to avoid these barriers easily.
The last aspect of listening is how to manage interpersonal conflict. Conflict occurs in most relationships-professional and personal and conflict can cause resentment and possibly the ending of a relationship as well. People embrace different ways to face conflict and to learn how to manage conflict involves being able to adhere the positive aspect of the relationship, which is to listen well. For example, I actually witnessed an incident when two doctors disagreed on a prognosis on a specific patient, which lead to an interpersonal conflict. After exchanging a few words, the doctors began to become agitated and verbally attacked each other. At this point, both doctors did not want to listen, instead, they both wanted to talk. The approach these doctors were using was not an effective way to handle conflict.
Hence, it is obvious skillful communication was not enforced in this situation. Accordingly, “all interpersonal interactions can learn how to improve their relationships by discussing how to find a resolution for their discord” (Hybels & Weaver, 2007 p. 202,203). In this professional environment, proper conflict management should have been applied because at this point, the company’s image may be at stake.
A final example of interpersonal conflict is lack of communication because lack of effective communication can result in interpersonal variation. For instance, a few months ago my relationship with a friend dispersed because of an emotional distance. The one -year date of his mom’s passing was approaching and my friend said that he had some personal issues to resolve and decided to try to handle them on his own. Since I was bothered by his unsettling actions, I continued to show my concern. Therefore, I suggested my friend talk about what was troubling him. In most situations, both partners would want to talk and not listen. In this case, I was willing to listen, but my friend refused to talk. In short, my friend was not ready to open up and listen to reason and continued with his depressing distance. Therefore, the relationship was dissolved because of the interaction conflict.
Assuredly, to resolve interpersonal conflict in our society, an appropriate balance between personal ambition and optimistic conduct must be developed. Since the act of resolving conflict is a skill that can be taught, determination can help people blossom through their actions and help them receive respect in his or her life. Furthermore, there are effective communication methods to improve interpersonal conflict and to resolve interpersonal conflict following interaction techniques will be helpful:
Encouragement-encourages each person to share their concerns
Simplicity-ask questions to avoid misunderstandings
Recognition-observe accurately to provide clear feedback
However, conflict can lead to a deeper understanding and closeness between each person. In essence, “[many interpersonal conflicts] can be traced to problems in listeningâ€¦” (Hybels & Weaver, 2007 p. 86). The main cause of interpersonal conflict is that both partners want to talk and no one is willing to listen. While resolving interpersonal conflict is a work-in-progress, people should start focusing on how to listen, which will eventually lead to constructive relationships.
In summary, the stance of listening skills is important to analyze and review what the speaker discussed. In other words, when an interest is made known about what was conversed, the listener would be able to summarize the main points and supporting details of the speaker. Hence, listening is an active and productive process, which is an attribute people should practice in their professional and personal lives. Moreover, good listening skills builds a foundation as a means of learning that involves consistency in all areas in life. However, if people engage in poor listening habits, misunderstandings will arise and they will not understand the speaker sufficiently to respond efficiently.
Since conflict materializes in both professional and personal relationships, it is best to have a face-to-face encounter because each person can benefit by enhancing their listening habits, such as eye contact and body language. Depending on the situation, the three learning styles, active listening, critical listening, and empathic listening should suffice for effective communication.
On a final note, while listening skills consist of paying attention to words and interpreting those spoken words correctly, people can develop a creative character as they express such a rewarding attribute. In addition, when people gain listening skills, it is an impressive tool for learning new concepts about other people. Above all, the perception of listening is his or her personal choice if they decide to be an effective interpersonal communicator.
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