Listening Skills: The Communication Process

Communication is defined as a process whereby information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviors. Human communication is the process of making sense from this world and sharing that sense with others. The method involves three components: verbal, non-verbal, and symbolic.

Verbal communications are the principal communication skills taught in the formal education system and include such things as reading, writing, computer skills, email, talking on the telephone, writing memos, and talking to others. Non-verbal communications are such messages expressed by other than verbal ways. Non-verbal communications are also called’body language’ and include facial expressions, posture, hand gestures, tone of voice, odor, and other communications perceived by our senses. We can’t not communicate and even if we don’t talk, our non-verbal communications convey a message. Symbolic communications are demonstrated from the cars we drive, the homes we live in, and the clothes we wear (e.g. uniforms – police, army ). The most important facets of symbolic communication are the words we use.

Words, actually, don’t have any meaning; instead we attach significance to them through our own interpretation. Therefore our own life experience, belief system, or perceptual frame determines’how we hear the words.’

Rudyard Kipling wrote,”Words are of coursethe most effective drug used by mankind.” To put it differently, we hear what we expect to hear based on our interpretation of what the words imply.

According to social scientists, verbal communication abilities account for 7 percent of the communication procedure. The other 93% consist of nonverbal and symbolic communication and are known as’listening abilities.’

The Chinese characters that make up the verb’to listen’ tell us that listening involves the ear, the eyes, undivided attention, and the center.

Listening is explained in a lot of studies as the most prominent type of communication. It’s been identified as one of the most common problems in marriage, among the most important in social and family settings, and among the most significant on-the-job communication skills. Often people believe that because they could hear, listening is a natural ability. It’s not. Listening effectively requires substantial skill and practice and is a learned skill. Listening skills are described as ‘listening with our hearts’ or’hearing involving the words.’

Listening is a process which consists of five components: hearing, attending, understanding, responding, and recalling. Hearing is the physiological measurement of listening which occurs when sound waves hit the ear at a particular frequency and loudness and is affected by background noise. Attending is the process of filtering out some messages and focusing on other people. Understanding occurs when we make sense of a message.

Responding consists of giving visible feedback to the speaker like eye contact and appropriate facial expressions. Remembering is the ability to remember information. Listening isn’t only a passive activity; we’re active participants in a communication transaction.

Practical Steps For More Effective Listening
1. Talk less. One of my students used to say when she eased classes she told her pupils that God gave you one mouth and two ears – which should tell you something.
2. Eliminate distractions. If it’s essential that you listen, do whatever you can to eliminate external and internal noise and distractions that interfere with careful listening.
3. Do not judge prematurely. We all are accountable for forming snap judgements and assessing others prior to hearing them out particularly when the speaker’s thoughts conflict with our own.
4. Start looking for key ideas. We think much quicker than people talk. To help focus attention (rather then drift off in boredom) extract the fundamental idea.
5. Ask sincere questions. ‘Devil’s advocate’ queries are really statements or criticisms in disguise. Sincere questions are requests for new information that explains a speaker’s feelings or thoughts.
6. Paraphrase. Reword the speaker’s ideas in your own words to be certain that your interpretation as a listener is true.
7. Suspend your own schedule. To put it differently, while you’re listening, focus on what the speaker is saying not what you think.
8. Empathic listening. Empathic listening is understanding that given the identical set of circumstances you may have done the exact same thing. It’s the ability to experience the world in the other’s point of view. It doesn’t automatically signify that you agree, but you know.
9. Open your heart with love. Frequently we listen to score points and make ourselves right and the other person wrong. When we open our hearts to one another, we do this with the belief that we’re all the same. We’ve got the very same feelings, fears, and hurts: doing the best we could with what we know.