2000 years ago an ancient philosopher (Zeno of Citium – if anyone asks) once said “We have been given two ears but a single mouth in order that we should hear more and talk less”. Some things just never change!
Often we interchange the words “HEARING’ and ‘LISTENING’ as if they meant the same thing, but of course they don’t.
Hearing is thought to be passive – the act of receiving the sound through the ear. Unless we have physical damage to the auditory system we should be able to hear, without real effort, any sound waves within our usual range. We can often hear things without being really conscious of it. The early morning bird chorus can be heard, but is not often remarked upon. To differentiate between the bird songs we need to actively listen.
Listening goes beyond hearing, it involves a conscious effort to comprehend what is being said. Listening means that we try to make sense of what we have heard. Active listening requires concentration on what is being said, not for the sound but for the meaning. This is the actual message. But by careful listening we can distinguish what the speaker actually means by interpreting the pitch, the rate and the emphasis being used. It also means being aware of the physical unspoken communication being used to enhance the message – that is of course, the body language. This supplies the implied message. Information is an intangible substance that must be sent by the speaker and received by an active listener.
The study of listening goes back to the 1920’s, researcher Paul Rankin conducted the first study of listening in 1929 – showing amazing results
Seven out of every ten minutes awake was spent in some form of communication activity – of these seven minutes – or 70% of our waking time – the largest percentage of time was spent listening. And this was twenty years before television burst into our lounge rooms.
In today’s society with more telephones and mobile phones every day, we can probably increase that time. So if we spend all that time listening, you must be able to remember most of it – What do you think? Can you remember what was said at your last meeting? Can you recall all of it, or only some of it?
How much do we remember or recall?
Researchers have found that in a ten-minute presentation half of the message is lost immediately. 48 hours later 50% of what we did remember has gone, which means that only about 25% of your original important message is ever retained. While there is a responsibility on the speaker to convey his message skilfully – there is also a responsibility on the hearer to listen with equal skill. Good Listening Skills are achieved through learning and practice
Listening is the most frequently used form of verbal communication and it is a critical skill in learning. Listening also helps us to develop our language skills. Listening is a precious gift – it is the gift of our time. It helps us to :
- Build relationships
- Resolve conflicts
- Ensures understanding, and
- Improves accuracy
There are also more detailed benefits we can achieve by improving our listening skills: these include:
- Expanding our knowledge through taking in new information
- Developing our comprehension of the language and increasing our vocabulary
- It helps us to determine the strong points and the weaknesses of an argument
- Listening is a good social skill, which can add to the quality of our lives, and
- It gives a good example to children who learn from us.
There are many benefits of good listening, but it does not come easy. The techniques of good listening require us to be a participant in the communication equation. We need to concentrate on active listening.
Do you want to improve your Listening Skills? Talk to Trischel at firstname.lastname@example.org about a 2 hour seminar for your company which will highlight the benefits of listening correctly and show how active listening is an easy skill to pick up once you know how.
Michele @ Trischel