Describe Effective Listening Techniques
Listening is critical to learning and an important part of the communication process. In a training institution, some of the course material may be delivered through lectures, audio recordings, and verbal instructions. Even with practical demonstrations and instructional videos, much of the content is delivered through the spoken word. If you are not fully involved in listening, you will miss some important information and can easily be distracted. On a job site, effective listening can be critical in ensuring the safety of you and your co-workers and ensuring that a job is completed accurately and on time.
Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person so that the message is fully understood. The following sections describe several techniques that you can use to demonstrate active listening. The techniques you use will vary depending on the situation. For example, active listening during a lecture will require different techniques than active listening regarding a personnel matter at the job.
Eliminate distractions. Shut off shop equipment, radios, or other competing sounds. Try to put personal problems aside. Limit engagement in other activities such as texting or working on other assignments.
If you are having difficulty concentrating, use techniques to keep your mind from wandering. This may include taking very brief notes or jotting down questions you might want to ask at the appropriate time.
Put yourself inside the speaker’s thoughts and feelings in order to better understand what they are saying to you. Suspend your own judgment and position until you clearly understand the other’s perspective.
Listen for feelings
Try to “listen between the lines” to understand the attitudes, needs, and motives behind the words. Changes in volume and tone, as well as non-verbal clues such as facial expressions and gestures, can help you determine how the speaker is feeling.
Use “listener-friendly” body language: make eye contact with the speaker or focus on the audio or visual presentation at hand.
Try to connect the information you are hearing with what you may have previously learned or already know.
Pay attention to any visuals that may accompany the audio: for example, an instructor writing on a board or asking you to look at a visual in your textbook or online while they continue reading.
Even if you don’t agree with what the speaker is saying, it is important that they know they have been heard and that you understand what they have said. Use nods and “uh-huhs” and respectful comments that show you have heard what was said.
When the speaker has finished talking, repeat in your own words what they said so they know they have been understood.
Ask questions to get more information, especially if you’re not clear on what was said. It is important to take your cues from the presenter on when is the best time to ask questions. While some instructors may ask you to interrupt and ask questions at any time, others may ask you to hold questions until the appropriate time.
Participate in discussions and respond to questions.
- Listening is not part of the communication process.
- Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person so that the message is fully understood.
- Which of the following is not required for active listening?
- Asking questions if you need more clarity
- Concentrating exclusively on what is being said
- Concentration, empathy, reading between the lines, and appropriate body language
- Validating what is being said and paraphrasing in your own words what you understood
- Active listening is important for safety on the job site.
- Eliminating distractions like a radio is an example of which technique for active listening?
- Listen for feelings
- You should avoid asking questions of the speaker and follow up with other classmates for clarification instead.
- Responding to questions and speaking up in discussions is an example of which technique for active listening?
- Listen for feelings
- Which of the following is/are example(s) of connecting with the material?
- Paying attention to visuals
- Focus on the presentation
- Think about information you’ve learned previously
- All of the above
- You should validate the speaker by showing your listening, regardless of whether or not you agree with what they are saying.
- You should suspend your own judgment until you understand the speaker’s perspective.
See the Answer Key in the back matter of the textbook for self-test answers.