Friday, 2 December 2011

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Hearing and listening is not the same thing. Hearing is the act of perceiving sound. It is involuntary and simply refers to the reception of aural stimuli. Listening is a selective activity which involves the reception and the interpretation of aural stimuli. It involves decoding the sound into meaning.
Listening is divided into two main categories: passive and active. Passive listening is little more than hearing. It occurs when the receiver of the message has little motivation to listen carefully, such as when listening to music, storytelling, television, or when being polite.
People speak at 100 to175 words per minute (WMP), but they can listen intelligently at 600 to 800 WPM. Since only a part of our mind is paying attention, it is easy to go into mind drift- thinking about other things while listen to someone. The cure for this active listening- which involves listening with a purpose. It may be to gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve problems, share interest, see how another person feels, show support, etc. it requires that the listener attends to the words and the feelings of the sender for understanding. It takes the same amount or more energy than speaking. It requires the receiver to hear the various messages, understand the meaning and then verify the meaning by offering feedback. The following are the few traits of active listeners:
· Spend more time listening than talking.
· Do not finish the sentence of others.
· Do not answer questions with questions.
· Are aware of biases. We all have them. We need to control them.
· Never daydreams or become preoccupied with their own thoughts when others talk.
· Let the other speakers talk. Do not dominate the conversations.
· Plan responses after the other s have finished speaking, NOT while they are speaking.
· Provide feedback, but do not interrupt incessantly.
· Analyze by looking at all the relevant factors and asking open-ended questions.
· Walk others through by summarizing.
· Keep conversation on what others say, NOT on what interests them.
· Take brief notes. This forces them to concentrate on what is being said.
When you know something, say what you know. When you don’t know something, say that you don’t know. That is knowledge. –Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius)
The purpose of feedback is to filter messages so that the intention of the original communicator is understood by the second communicator. It includes verbal and nonverbal responses to another person’s message.
Providing feedback is accomplished by paraphrasing the words of the sender. Restate the sender’s feelings; or ideas in your own words, instead of repeating their words. Your word should be saying, “This is what I understand your feelings to be, am I correct?” It not only includes verbal responses, but also nonverbal ones. Nodding your head or squeezing their hand to show agreement, dipping your eyebrows shows you don’t really understand the meaning of their last phrase, or sucking air in deeply and blowing hard shows that you are also exasperated with the situation.

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