Listening skills v/s Hearing
Almost all of us are born with the ability to hear but hardly any of us Listen. - Age old Axiom
Listening is a learned behavior. From birth, we can actually hear all the sounds and noises around us. As we grow, we begin to develop our skills in listening, i.e. interpret what we hear and give a meaning to the sounds. So listening is not an inborn talent, but something we develop out of practice. It is a cognitive process in psychological terms.
One of the basic problems we have in our society is that we take for granted the powers we have. Ideas like "we have brain sowe can think" and "I have fancy car, so know how to drive" are actually baseless but we belive them never theless and as a result assumptions like these cause us untold suffering.
More often than not, we are bad at listening. Yes biologically, we can hear all the noises, and we also have the parts needed to interpret and understand them, but do we actually do using those parts correctly is a different question all together.
All too often we are being referred to the
With no shame I can tell you, many people have repeated this message to me quite often. some of them even have pointed out this page and said "why don't you practice what you prescribe ". I will certainly reach that point some day, until then bear with me :-)
My listening skills are still under development.
The first hand experience I have in this area has helped me to fine tune these exercises and I can vouch for their effectiveness. The fact that I sometimes forget to use them often is a different issue though. Let me stop being self critical now and show you how you can develop your skills with these simple steps
Listen with a purposeListen with the purpose of just listening. Do not predict or second guess what will be said next. We will find out in a moment. Won’t we? This problem of jumping over comes due to the common belief that,
The one to respond the fastest is the best.
While this might be the truth in some areas of life, it is certainly not the number one secret of any successful person. Even in negotiations, people take time to think it over. If we listen instead of being busy second guessing, we might even pick up the unspoken words.
Stop following through the textIf some one is reading a report and you have a copy of the same, resist the tendency to follow him/ her through the paragraph. This is a habit most of us picked up at school, where the loudest boy/girl would read from the book and the rest of us followed with our fingers tracing the words. Let’s leave that back in the school and move on.
Even if it is being just read out a book, listening to will get you two results. One you can be lazy, just like me and let the other fellow do the tough part of reading and two you get to practice your listening skills.
Shut your eyes to focus betterIf you are anything like me and get distracted by colorful things or mosquitoes around, just close your eyes, your listening skills automatically get a boost when you close your eyes. Trying to listen to the engine of your car while driving is not a good idea though.
This involves choosing a surrounding which has background noises. Find such a place and start the exercise. 10 minutes a day once a week of this listening
exercise would be good to start developing your listening skills.
Laser target listening
Tune in to a TV station which has a lot of blabbering. Chose one of the speakers and focus on what that person is telling. Mentally tune out the others. Stick to one person at a time and listen to him. Next, switch on the Radio and tune to a noisy channel while you continue to focus on the person.
After you are sure you have actively listened to him, shift attention to another person and focus. This is like putting on a laser beam or spot light on one person at a time. Practice this regularly for at least 10 minutes a day. You are laser targeting your listening skills, indicating that you're sharpening and building a precision instrument.
Ear training as an exercise
This is actually an exercise we have learnt from the musicians. This exercise
helps young musicians train their ear to catch the tunes. This is very good way
to fine tune your aural skills.
Once you have practiced the TV tuning technique, choose a Music
orchestra or a symphony to listen to. Focus on one instrument. This can be done
by either listening to the music over an mp3 player or watching an Orchestra play on the TV.
Focus on the shifts in tone, tempo, variation in the rhythm etc. Track
the patterns of one instrument playing amidst many. This exercise will help you
a lot not just in developing your listening skills but also will be a great help
in building your over all
Listening to the unsaid
Next time you listen to someone speaking; focus on the shift of tonality, rate of speech and other vocal changes. Track the pattern and complement it by observing the body language, changes in facial expressions etc.
Doing all this will give your mind the food for thought, in building
flexibility and observation skills. Don’t be too surprised when you catch
yourself being a better communicator and find yourself shifting your tone or
using a different pitch. I will deal with the speaking skills later.
A few more things to note:
We may feel like interrupting someone but may not to do so due to social consequences. It is ok to interrupt as long as you have a point which is contextually significant, or if you have not understood something.
It is better to ask a question than to resist it. Be sure that you do not
turn it into a habit, though. Asking questions and clarifying plays a vital part
in your listening skills training.
Handling interruptions will be up soon. If you suffer from others
interrupting you or if you interrupt others too often, worry not. The cure will
be here soon.
To sum up, listening skills can be learnt consciously. When you
practice these skills, you also naturally become good in speaking. So,
make the most use of these techniques and give us feedback on how it helped you.