Laurel King and Nicauris Delossantos
I. What is listening?
A. Listening is a collection of skills involving attention and concentration (receiving), learning (understanding), memory, critical thinking (evaluation), and feedback (responding).
1. Receiving is tuning in to the speakerís entire message, including both its verbal and nonverbal aspects, and consciously paying attention to it.
2. Understanding means grasping both the thoughts that are expressed and the emotional one that accompanies them.
4. Evaluating is critically analyzing the meaning and merit of a speakerís message.
5. Responding actively means letting the speaker know that the message was received and understood by the use of backchanneling cues.
i. Backchanneling cues: words or gestures that let the speaker know youíre paying attention, ex: ďI seeĒ or ďuh-huhĒ.
B. Active listening helps you check your understanding of what the speaker said and, more important, what he or she meant.
II. Styles of Listening
A. Listening to Empathize and Understand
1. Empathy is when you understand what a person means and what a person is feeling.
2. Nonjudgmental emphatic response from a listener helps other people understand what is going on.
3. Judgmental emphatic response from a listener provides support but also helps to interpret and evaluate the speakerís situation.
B. Nonjudgmental and Critical Listening
1. Keep an open mind; avoid filtering out or oversimplifying difficult or complex messages.
2. Recognize your own biases which may interfere with accurate listening and cause you to distort message reception through a process of assimilation- the tendency to integrate and interpret what you hear or think you hear in keeping with your own biases, prejudices, and expectations.
3. Recognize and combat the normal tendency to sharpen- a process in which we tend to highlight, emphasize, and perhaps embellish one or two aspects of a message.†
C. Surface and Depth Listening
1. In reality, most messages have more then one level of meaning.
2. Sometimes the other level is the opposite of the literal meaning; at other times it seems totally unrelated.
3. To fully understand what the person wants you to grasp the whole meaning to engage in depth listening.
4. In regulation your surface and depth listening, consider the following guidelines:
a. Focus on both verbal and nonverbal messages.
b. Listen for both content and relational messages.
c. Make special note of statements that refer back to the speaker.
d. Donít disregard the literal meaning of interpersonal messages.
III. Challenges to Listening
A. Physical Barriers: include interferences from the physical environment and distracting characterizations or behaviors of the speaker, listener, or both. Examples include:
1. An uncomfortable chair
2. Bad view of the speaker
3. Hot room
4. Traffic noise
B. Psychological Barriers: lies within the listeners and includes mental and emotional distractions.
1. Remembering what the speaker says is important and needs to be effective.
2. You can improve on remembering what your speaker is saying by:
a. Identifying the central ideas of the speech
b. Summarizing the message in an easier-to-retain form without ignoring crucial details
c. Repeat names and key concepts to yourself
d. Take notes
e. Identify patterns and use them to organize what the speaker is saying
3. Other distractions include boredom, daydreaming, and thinking about personal concerns during the speech.
C. Interaction Barriers: may arise as a result of engaging in verbal battles and using inflammatory language or because of cultural differences between speaker and listener.
1. Three cultural influences on listening are:
a. The differences in language and speech
b. The differences in nonverbal behaviors
c. The differences in gender
i. All three of these influences can act as barriers when it comes to listening and understanding a personís speech.
ii. Each culture, gender, and individual can have the same gestures, words, and phrases, but they tend to have different meanings.
d. Certain trigger words or phrases can cause emotional reactions, intensify the conflict, and further discourage listening.
IV. Overcoming Challenges to Listening
A. Receiving Competence: means that the listener is motivated, knowledgeable, and skilled at tuning in to the speakerís message and attending to it. Here are some tips to becoming a more competent listener:
a. Prepare yourself to listen mentally, physically, and emotionally.
b. Clarify your purpose for listening to learn, evaluate, or emphasize.
c. Identify barriers to listening and eliminate distractions so you can concentrate on the message and take necessary steps to remember them.
d. Focus your attention on listening in the moment, not on your own thoughts and feelings.
e. Postpone evaluation of the message until the speaker has finished.
B. Constructing Meaning Competence: calls for the listener to be motivated, knowledgeable, and skilled when it comes to assigning meaning to a speakerís message.
a. Set aside personal biases
b. Repress any tendency to respond emotionally or negatively to the message.
c. Analyze objectively what the speaker is trying to say.
C. Responding Competence: means the listener is motivated, knowledgeable, and skilled when communicating to the speaker that the message has been received and understood.
a. Identify and remember the main points of the message.
b. Strive to understand and clarify the meaning of the message (such as the in depth meaning) by asking questions.
c. Demonstrate your interest in the speakerís message by providing appropriate verbal (such as backchanneling cues) and nonverbal feedback (such as hand gestures, smiling, and nodding).
d. Paraphrase the message to achieve full comprehension and clarity.