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Listen up! Are you 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 you to identify with the meaning of what people are talking about.
Listening skills is a beneficially 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 should be able to communicate their comprehension of what the other person is talking about. For example, if a friend, teacher, or speaker speaks about the need to improve various types of environmental issues in our society, the listener or receiver should be able to execute his/her listening skills by clarifying what was addressed by questioning and summarizing the speakers' 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.
How to Listen
The first aspect of listening is to learn how to listen effectively. In today's society, communicating appropriately has everything to do with listening. 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.
Accordingly, becoming a better listener, and depending on the situation, there are three types of listening strategies that would be beneficial to ensure effective communication with other people. Hybels and Weaver (2007) states 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.
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. Consequently, empathic listeners usually leads 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, In other words, active listeners' listen intensively to the speaker so that they would be able to express what was said, by paraphrasing or summarizing the statement.
Overall, people listen to acquire information and the impact of these listening techniques will certainly lead to thriving professional and personal relationships.
Defining Listening Barriers
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) comments 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, learning how to listen will take practice and diligence to obtain concentration. However, there are some exceptions for people 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 was it being said. In short, "â€¦savor the conversationâ€¦" (Stewart, 2006 p. 201).
Ideally, there are plenty of barriers that occur to block people to listen properly, and once awareness is achieved, people will be able to easily avoid these barriers.
The last aspect of listening is how to manage interpersonal conflict. Conflict occurs in most relationships-professional and personal. Conflict can cause resentment and possibly the ending of a relationship. However, conflict can be helpful and can lead to a deeper understanding and closeness between each person.
Lack of effective communication can result in interpersonal variation. 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, if two doctors disagree on a prognosis on a specific patient, an interpersonal conflict usually arises. After exchanging a few words, the doctors began to become agitated and verbally attack each other. The patient, however, gets involve because he/she do not agree with their analysis and witnesses the unprofessionalism of the staff. Hence, it is obvious skillful communication was not enforced in this situation. "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. A couple is torn apart because of an emotional distance. The male initiates remoteness communication not just from his partner, but from his friends as well. The one -year date of his mom's passing was approaching and he said that he had some personal issues to resolve and decided to try to handle them on his own. His partner was bothered by his unsettling actions and continued to show her concern and suggest he talk about what is troubling him. In most situations, both partners would want to talk and not listen. In this case, his partner was willing to listen, but he refused to talk. In short, he was not ready to open up and listen to reason and continued with his distance. Therefore, the relationships was dissolved because of the interaction conflict
In order to resolve interpersonal conflict in our society, an appropriate balance between personal ambition and conduct must be developed. Since the act of resolving conflict is a skill that can be taught, it can help people blossom through their actions and receive respect in life. Accordingly, there are effective, communication methods to improve interpersonal conflict. Resolving interpersonal conflict is possible and the following interaction techniques may be helpful:
Encouragement-encourages each person to share their concerns
Clarity-ask questions to avoid misunderstandings
Recognition-observe accurately to provide feedback
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 everyone wants 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 society, the stance of listening skills is important to analyze and review what was heard. In other words, when an interest is shown about what was said, the listener will 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. 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. Furthermore, when people obtain listening skills, it is an impressive tool for learning new concepts about each other. Above all, the perception of listening is his or her personal choice if they decide to be an effective interpersonal communicator.