Listening skills: Overview and Importance

Listening is one of the most important skills you can have to maintain growth, both personal as well as in career. Having an active listening skill as a soft skill will help you in many aspects of your professional as well as personal life. Being an active listener helps you gain insight, knowledge, and understand the other person’s point of view, which helps you to resolve misunderstandings and saves you from the despair of making foul assumptions.

Be it a job interview or a professional meeting, a simple habit or practice of active listening skills will help you in many fewer errors, less wasted time, and improved accuracy. It will also help you to make quick decisions, reaching agreements, dealing with customers and other professional business, and in marketing strategies.

How to Be a Good Listener

The first and foremost thing you need to be good at any skill is to be eager about needing or wanting and learning that skill. Here, we have various strategies for you to follow and practice in your everyday life to begin having good listening skills.

  • The body language, especially eye contact, is important. While a person is talking, try to focus, and give full attention to that person. Face them and try to maintain at the same eye level as them.
  • Ask questions. The questions should be open-minded, not that of something accusing or not something opposing that will lead to an intense argument, but might lead to a knowledgeable discussion.
  • You should not assume or judge what they are saying unless you listen to the full speech or discussion. Most of the time, people are too quick to assume that they know where the discussion is going. 
  • Occasionally nodding your head(remember, occasionally!) and repeating what they have said in your own words is helpful too, it helps you to be certain that what you heard is true. It helps the other person to establish a sense that you are interested in what they are saying.
  • Understand what they are saying, listen, and interpret. Try to understand their ideas, thoughts, and perspective before you agree or disagree. 
  • Try not to interrupt the speaker about a doubt, try to make a mental note or write down any ideas you want to bring up any questions for later.

Features of Active Listening

Listening is not the same as just hearing. Like we have already talked about how it includes hearing, understanding, and interpreting, it also includes other features as well.

  • Asking questions and providing feedback.
  • Reflecting or confirming what is being said in the form of questions.
  • Patient
  • Neutral- even if disagree
  • Body language-nodding, smiling, eye contact, etc
  • Summarizing 

Some of the bad habits that reflect your bad listening skills are:

  • Interrupting
  • Not making eye contact
  • Losing focus or becoming distracted or being in your own mind space
  • Bringing up your experience or your knowledge before the other person stopped talking
  • Pretending to pay attention(it’s not rocket science for the other person to know that)
  • Focusing too much or not focussing on the ideas or parts you don’t understand.

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