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Trainer Vijayagopal

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Exerpts from a book of mine!
It will come soon here also!

Listening

One of the biggest problems in communication relates to listening. How many people have gotten lost because of only half-listening to a set of directions?

Listening is NOT the same as hearing.

Hearing is the physical activity of receiving the sound signals just because there is a mechanism called ears. Interestingly we have only one mouth but there are two ears. It is to make possible to listen the sounds from all sides in a physical sense. In an other way may be it is to show that we have to listen more than we speak. We can not speak if there is no listener. In class room there will be more listeners and only one speaker. People never can see that there is more listening happening inn that room than speaking and say so and so is conducting a class. It is like calling this globe earth even when what is seen more is water. Earth is the basis for the existence of water.

Listening and hearing are not exactly the same thing. While it is true that you must hear in order to listen, it isn't always true that if you hear you ARE listening. Hearing is a function carried out by your brain wherein the sounds received by our ears are assigned meaning. But just because our brain understands the words doesn't mean that our minds will understand what is received.

Initially when we start hearing I mean taking the sound signals , we do it to find out what exactly it is about. For example there is a hawker in the street with his regular call. We immediately make out who it is. If some other new call is there, we try to apply our mind and understand the signal. This is where it becomes listening from hearing. Once we a re sure that the communication can be useful we pay attention and understanding the message will start. The next step is remembering the new message and recalling all the associated information already present in the brain. New information juxtaposed with old associated information will lead to questions in the mind. These are the various steps in the process of listening. If it is only the whirring of the fan or some other routine and unwanted sound we comfortably neglect it. But even among the cacophony of a railway station , someone calls out our name or some other familiar voice is heard, we immediately pay attention. Listening is thus is  a series of activities connected in a sequence.

There is casual listening and there is serious listening. Many people can not listen properly. Many others complain that people do not listen when they speak. As such we can not remember what all we listen. Research has proved that we can remember only 15% of what we listen that too when you listen seriously. Worst of it, you can not recall even a part of what we remember.

Many people think that listening happens and does not call for any special attention towards that process. It is proved beyond doubt that to communicate well one has to listen well. After all a child learns its communication only after listening to the elders. Who taught you your mother tongue? Isn’t it the listening faculty that made it possible.

In the modern world there are courses for communication and public speaking etc. Three is rarely a course which teaches listening. We have to learn to listen. Because we learn only when we listen. Speaking is not power. It is listening which makes you more intelligent. Then you can very easily be intelligible. For this we have to understand the problems we face when we ty to listen.

Problems related to listening

Our brains are much faster than our mouths.

Part of the problem is that our minds are much faster than our mouths. Mind is like electronics and mouth is like mechanics. A computer can give the data for printing in a ziffy. The printer takes it’s own time to execute that printing. We typically speak anywhere from 30 to 100 words per minute but our minds can process information much faster than that.  We can even listen to more than two things at a time. Many people keep working while listening to music. So if the first few words do not "hook" our attention we will rapidly "drift" off to think of something else.

We lack interest or we prejudge what we are hearing.

This hearing/listening disparity not only results in a lack of interest but can also cause us to prejudge what we are hearing. If a person is uninteresting or dull or abrasive, these perceptions will cause us to judge the speaker and color what they are saying through our own attitudinal "filters".

We don't seek or give feedback.

Remember that our model of communication is a cycle - an ongoing give and take of information being shared. If we purposefully or accidentally give no feedback, the sender will have no idea or a distorted idea of how they are communicating. Distorted feedback could include agreeing with the sender when we really have no clue of what they are trying to say. When you listen something you are expected to give some reaction regarding the understanding.

How to improve your communication skills

So what are some specific behaviors that you can implement that will improve your communication quotient? Here are several.

Listen - don't assume.

The key to improved listening is using the "extra" time available in the hearing process. As you listen to someone, examine what they're saying, question your understanding of what is being said, involve yourself in the conversation. Most of the time we tend to fill up the gaps in communication by assuming. Whenever in doubt it is better ask a question and clarify whether what we understood is the same as what was told. This will clear the first impediment in the listening. Because of what is called as  association in psychological parlance, we assume some connected things continuing from what we could really listen. Somebody getting you a cup of tea when actually what you asked for was a key, is a classical example of assumption and filling the gaps

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Vijayagopalk, the soft skill trainer for you!!