A Guide to Effective Listening

Let’s talk about Effective Listening! Are you ever stuck in a conversation where you can’t comprehend what the other person is saying? Or perhaps you don’t remember what they said and don’t know how to respond?

There are times where the person speaking is sharing too much information, and the person listening is only focusing on certain things, or the things that they find to be important, rather than catching all of what is being said.

Different types of obstacles occur when it comes to effective listening whether it be an internal or external obstacle. Examples of internal obstacles could include selective listening, pseudo listening, and aggressive listening. And external obstacles could include incomprehensibility, too much information, and distraction.

There are six steps in the listening process:

  1. Hearing
  2. Understanding
  3. Interpreting
  4. Evaluating
  5. Remembering
  6. Responding

Each step in the listening process is self explanatory but very important for effective listening. Hearing is when the message is received or processed, understanding is when you recognize and understand what you are hearing, interpreting is when you fully understand the message, evaluating is when you internalize the information and relate it to prior knowledge, remembering is retaining the information which leads to responding to the message through feedback.

When listening, you should always be present in the moment and focus on the person speaking and what they are saying. Being mindful is important for effective listening because you don’t want to be thinking about something else and distract yourself from the conversation. If something does wind up distracting you, try to get back into the moment and focus on what you are being told by the other person. If your phone vibrates with a notification or someone calls you, don’t look at it. Try to control the distraction until the conversation is over.

Another part of effective listening is making sure that the person speaking knows that you are listening to them and that you want to be listening to what they are telling you. Eye contact, body language such as nodding your head, asking questions and repeating feedback is all encouraged and will help in letting them know that you are actually paying attention to them. When they are done speaking and it is time for your feedback, it is necessary to take a moment of silence to gather everything that they said and your thoughts on it before you respond. This way you are able to fully listen to the speaker and not think of what you are going to say while they are talking to you, because that can distract you from giving your full attention.

For more information on Effective listening, watch this video:

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