Ten Commandments of Listening
People tend to confuse listening and hearing and fail to understand the process of communication. It is important for an individual to distinguish clearly the two processes and to make sure that he/she does the right thing to facilitate the sharing of information as well as its interpretation. The rules of listening are not jargon since they are things that individuals obviously know, but it is hard to follow the same. Listening is a conscious process, through which an individual perceives auditory messages and understands their meaning (Turner & West, 2010). Hearing is different from listening because the former is a physiological process only, while the latter requires the interpretation of the meaning of the message (Gilbert, Schacter, & Wegner, 2011). People tend to listen to the words instead of information, and thus they fail to conceive the message. It is therefore important for them to learn the ten rules of effective listening.
Ten Commandments of Listening
Listening is part of the language learning skills, including speaking, reading and writing. It entails the acknowledgment of the message, remembering, evaluating and giving a feedback. However, the act does only incorporate the reception and interpretation of information and does not concern the receiver’s cooperation or opposition to the instructions. Individuals should refrain from talking when it is speaker’s turn. The parties must avoid interrupting others or trying to finish their statements by adding words (Turner & West, 2010). The listener should therefore be in a position to recall what the speaker has talked about at the end of the speech/conversation. The requirements of this rule seem to be a well-known behavior, but it is hard for people to keep quiet when it is not their turn to speak.
Communicating parties must prepare themselves to listen to each other (Wildland Fire Leadership, n.d.). It entails relaxation, putting irrelevant things out of one’s mind to avoid distraction. The listener should void reflecting/focusing on things that are out of the topic in question, such as how they will spend their weekend, and what to take for lunch among others.
The audience should help the speaker to feel comfortable by welcoming him/her and providing a suitable environment for the relay of the message effectively. The audience should not seem to disagree with the speaker, but they should instead give him/her gestures, nods, and words of encouragement that facilitate the delivery of the speech. The speaker requires a good eye contact and smiles to assure him/her of interest and cooperation, but that should not mean staring at him/her.
The audience should keep away from distractions such as fidgeting, looking away from the speaker, or doing anything that seems out of context (Turner & West, 2010). Such behaviors patterns do not only affect their listening capacity, but also send signals to the speaker that the audience has no interest in what he/she tries to pass on to them. External forces are less likely to interfere with listening if the audience keep them off their mind and pay attention to the speaker.
A good listener must empathize with the speaker (Turner & West, 2010). It implies trying to put him/herself into the speaker’s shoes and understand the message clearly from the correct perspective. The individual must familiarize himself/herself with emotions and feelings of other people, and this helps to create a link between the speaker and others. Through this, people understand what others undergo through as if they were in the same situation. If the listener does not concur with the speaker, it is good to develop a counterargument or queries, but the negation should be put forward after the speaker is through.
Listeners must have patience and understand that the speaker is a human being, and thus he/she cannot utter words continuously. Therefore, the former should not take advantage of a speaker’s pause to speak without his/her permission. The latter also requires pauses during the speech to reflect. The listener should not add words or finish the statement if not requested by the speaker (Turner & West, 2010). The audience should also not jump to ask questions before the speaker allows time for the same because this does not only distract the speaker, but also the listeners.
Avoiding bias and personal prejudice is also required of the listener. The latter should not feel irritated by the speaker or allow one’s mannerism and habits bother him or her because people behave differently. For instance, if the listener detests beards, the one should not have prejudice of the speaker because he or she wears such. The audience should also not dwell on cultural beliefs that may hinder learning from the speaker. Impartiality is crucial, and the audience should allow the speaker to prove his/her worth through what he/she delivers (Turner & West, 2010).
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It is important to listen to the speaker’s tone as well as non-verbal communication. Effective speeches have tones that vary depending on the point that the speaker is putting across. The listener should be able to note the variation of tones to understand emphasis the speaker puts on an issue, and this shows the seriousness of the point. For instance, when the speaker makes a plea, the listener should be capable of identifying that without the former necessarily saying that he/she is pleading. The tonal variation depicts the emotional state of the speaker and further compels the audience to understand the message well. Eye movements, facial expression, and gestures are important since they send signals to the listener (Vasquez, Hansen, & Smith, 2011).
It is necessary to listen to the context/ideas as opposed to words. Effective listening entails linking bits of information to have the whole picture/idea that the speaker tries to communicate. Conditions for this requirement are removing distractions and focusing properly. The listener must show the desire to listen as opposed to pretending/pseudo-listening (Turner & West, 2010). Listening, in this case, implies hearing, understanding and interpreting speaker’s words and knowing what he/she means. The audience should express the desire to listen and behave the same way.