There are 4 skills needed in the practice of communication, these are;
writing, reading, listening and speaking. It is however amazing that once it is perceived that an individual(s) is unable to read and write, he is immediately to the jail of illiteracy.
Haven’t we ever experienced anyone who is able to grasp a message the moment it is laid on him but is handicapped by his foundation of not learning the technicalities of putting things down?
I dare to argue that if such an individual(s) is exposed to techniques of reading and writing, he’ll beat even the most literate of us all to it – simply because they have invested and have honed their ability to listen.
Using this skill goes beyond one’s ability to be quiet whilst the other(s) is talking – it means making sense of every word that comes out of the mouth of the one talking. Now we have to be careful though, lest we over think each word and lose the intended point in the conversation. Communication is about finding midpoint in what is being shared and listening properly is a key to finding that balance.
Listening is pointer to whether information is being shared for all participants in a conversation/discourse; in the sense that, while one is listening to the voiced words, the other(s) is listening to body cues. This means your body posture can easily betray one if he is not fully in a conversation.
As with every skill, listening gets better with practice, some tips to help you get better at this skill are given below;
Make Eye Contact: you would have heard that criminal investigators can tell if one is telling the truth or otherwise by his ability to maintain eye contact, if this is stretched, it means maintaining eye contact can help the person talking to know if he is understood or not.
Note that it is considered rude to just stare and mop at people, so when making eye contact, let your eyes meet the other’s for a few seconds at a time and then break your gaze.
Use Gestures: such as nodding
Mind your body language: too much yawning can mean bored, slouching in your seat can mean you’re uninterested in the topic of discussion or even in the person talking
Show interest by rephrasing what was said in the way you understood which make room for clarity if there is a perceived misunderstanding
Give speakers their time: by not talking too much and waiting for them to finish, even if you would interject, do so when there is an appropriate pause.
Not sure you like the idea about learning to listen? Think of the wisdom that would be attributed to you when you exude all these characters, the speaker will be dying to hear from you; and when you open your mouth, the good turn of your listening attentively, will be given back to you.
Have you been practising these, let us know how it has been working for you.