The Importance of Listening
Listening -- we do it constantly. So why read an article to learn what we already know how to do? Listening is natural!
Or...is it? Ineffective listening is one of the most frequent causes of:
Ineffective listening is also acknowledged to be one of the primary contributors to divorce and to the inability of a parent and child to openly communicate.
And, people view poor listeners as self-centered, disinterested, preoccupied, and social boors!
If all of these negatives result from ineffective listening, why don't we listen effectively?
1. Hard Work
Listening is more than just keeping quiet. An active listener registers increased blood pressure, a higher pulse rate, and more perspiration. It means concentrating on the other person rather than on ourselves.
2. Information Overload
In today's society there is enormous competition for our attention from advertisements, radio, TV, movies, reading material, and more. With all these incoming stimuli, we have learned to screen out that information that we deem irrelevant. Sometimes we also screen out things that are important to us.
3. Rush to Action
We think we know what the person is going to say, so we jump in and interrupt, rather than taking the necessary time to listen and hear the person out.
4. Speed Difference
There is a considerable difference between speech speed and thought speed. The average person speaks at about 135 to 175 words a minute, but can listen to 400 to 500 words a minute. So, the poor listener spends all that time between the speed with which he listens and the speed with which he talks, on daydreams ... or on thoughts of what he is going to say next... or in mentally arguing with the person speaking. It's like listening to two voices at the same time.
5. Lack of Training
We do more listening than speaking, reading, or writing, yet we receive almost no formal education in listening. Remarkably, the average student gets less than one half year of listening education through her first 12 years of schooling!
Although many people assume they are good listeners, few actually are. The average employee spends about three-quarters of each working day in verbal communications. Nearly half of that is spent on listening. Incredibly, the average employee's listening effectiveness is only 25%. Today, more and more companies are discovering that one bad listener within the managerial ranks can cause much more damage than a number of good listeners can correct.
The normal, untrained listener is likely to understand and retain only about 50% of a conversation, and this relatively poor percentage drops to an even less impressive 25% retention rate 48 hours later. This means that recall of a particular conversation that took place more than a couple of days ago will always be incomplete and usually inaccurate. No wonder people can seldom agree about was discussed!
Listening well -- listening actively -- is obviously important, but how does it really benefit you?
With all of these benefits, I'm sure you agree that listening is more than just a natural behavior and that it requires some work to improve. But, what's the secret to improving your listening skills?
To listen effectively, you must C A R E S S those you're listening to:
Sequencing is listening for order or priority. Sometimes someone tells you something in which the order is very important, or you are given instructions or directions where the order is crucial. Comparing is concentrating on the points that the speaker is making so that you can discriminate between fact and theory, positive and negative, actual and projected, advantages and disadvantages. As you listen, you're involved in a continual process of comparing ideas, options, attitudes, facts, feelings and beliefs. You need to keep track of the speaker's message.
Although the six skills are all relatively simple to learn, implementing them may be a more difficult task, because to do so means breaking through a barrier of poor listening habits that most of us have developed over a lifetime.
The payoff for improving your listening skills and becoming an active listener is obviously enormous. The benefits are yours simply for the -- listening!
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