Can You Hear Me Now?
Most people consider themselves to be good listeners. But what would others – professors, bosses, friends, family – say about you? If you look like you’re paying attention but are actually focusing on what you’ll say as soon as you get the chance, you’ve got some work to do.
Begin by objectively assessing your listening skills. Psychology Today’s Are you a good listener? asks 54 questions about various statements and scenarios. Your online responses generate “a Snapshot Report with an introduction, a graph and a personalized interpretation for one of your test scores” (and an option to buy the complete results).
Many of us will discover that we need do a better job of listening actively. Public Management magazine explains that two characteristics of “Active Listening” are listening “without making judgments” and paraphrasing. “When you paraphrase,” they note, “you repeat in your own words what the speaker has just said in order to make sure you understand it.”
The article details the active listening process and tells how to identify and overcome barriers to effective listening. And it suggests, “When you begin to listen, set a goal for yourself: Decide why you are listening. When you take the conscious step of setting a listening goal, you begin to take your role as listener seriously, formalizing a process that you may have previously taken for granted. Also, setting a goal enables you to empathize more easily with the listener because it helps you key in to the feelings of the person communicating with you.”
People aren’t very good at listening, points out MindTools, the great resource for “Essential skills for an excellent career.” Their article Active Listening says, “Depending on the study being quoted, we remember a dismal 25-50% of what we hear.”
MindTools explains how to master the active listening technique – which they call “a model for respect and understanding.” And they offer this practical advice: “It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener, Old habits are hard to break, and if your listening habits are as bad as many people’s are, then there’s a lot of habit-breaking to do!”