The art or skill of effective listening requires practice as well as developing an awareness of what is happening in and around you when you are listening to others. You must understand what is involved in the listening process and develop the necessary techniques required for effective listening.
There are a good number of procedures you can utilize towards becoming an effective listener. But in this article, we will only mention twelve.
How to Become Effective Listener
Here are the 12 tips that can help you develop effective listening skills:
1. Be Prepared to Listen
You should prepare yourself mentally to listen and assimilate as best as you can what you are listening to with an overall intention of understanding the topic. You are here advised to quieten the wandering of your inner thoughts and make room for the speaker’s agenda. It is also good to have a pre- knowledge of what you have come to listen to, that way; you can construct a mental outline of where the speaker is going in his speech without being overtly pre-emptive.
2. Concentrate on the Speaker’s Content and Context
While listening, you should keep in mind the background and theme of speech. This strategy will trigger residual knowledge and enable you to absorb the content quickly and efficiently. That way, you will be more in tune with the speaker, picking out key words, phrases and emotions.
3. Maintain Eye Contact
This shows that you’re being attentive and actually care about what they are saying. Stay focused on the conversation at hand and nod accordingly to let the person know you’re getting what they’re saying.
4. Be Prepared to Listen
Relax your mind and body so that you can receive information objectively. Clear your mind of distracting thoughts by breathing in deeply. (Inhale and exhale at least three times.) Turn toward the speaker and sit up straight to show that you’re present and attentive. Your physical engagement also sends a message to your mind to focus on the speaker.
5. Give Positive Non-Verbal Feedback
Your facial expression is a clear indicator of your thoughts and mood. Be conscious of your body language. Rolling eyes, slumping shoulders, excessive fidgeting or sternness of face all show that you’re detached from the conversation.
6. Ask questions when the Time is Right
You should ask the right questions at the right time. This is quite different from interruption. When you are following the progress of a speech or lecture, you should be able to determine the appropriate time to interject with your questions. Questioning ensures you have clarification of what has been said so far and this is necessary so that you can find out more as well as test your understanding of the topic. Asking questions demonstrates that you have been listening to the speaker.
7. Stay Open-Minded
Do not Judge the speaker, listen without being critical of the other person. Judging the matter before you hear it all out can cause you to respond inappropriately. Avoid the need to justify your own thoughts or beliefs on a matter before listening to a person entirely. If you don’t allow a person to finish what they’re trying to say, you’ll never really get to know how they feel or think about the situation.
8. Ask good questions to encourage elaboration.
There’s no substitute for a good question try to get lengthy responses to understand the big picture of the subject matter of the course discussed,
9. Take Notes
Note taking is a study activity that involves writing down information given by another through speech. In note taking, you are expected to have written down a summary of your understanding of the concepts and ideas you have listed to, so that you can make use of them at a later date. You can take notes at a lecture, meeting, workshops /conferences or at other oral discussions.
Research has shown that the process involved in taking notes can impact positively on a student’s ability to retain information for a longer period. That is why it is an essential study skill that you must learn and utilize.
Note taking can be done in various ways. You can take linear notes where your key points and ideas are written in simple and short sentences/lists or you can take notes in form of diagrams, where you link the different ideas as concept maps or spider diagrams. There are various methods of note taking, Cornell method, Outline method, Mapping method, Charting method and Sentence method. The five methods of taking note include:
- The Cornell Method
The Cornell Method is a special form of note taking drawn up based on two unequal columns. The narrow left side is used to enter the cue or keywords/concepts while the wider right side is meant for short descriptions or notes and recording of ideas learnt. The lower part of the page is for summarizing the information on the page.
- The Outline Method
This method involves the use of dash or indented outline. Here, you write and identify your topics and sub-topics, by indenting the text and numbering the lines, or using bullet points.
- The Mapping Method
Mapping is done as a diagram that gives a graphic representation of the ideas and concepts from a lecture. The mapping method helps you organize your notes in a way that would create impact visually, linking each idea, from the central concept to every other one discussed in the lecture.
How to Become Effective Listener
- The Charting Method
As the name implies, the Charting method is actually a table of rows and columns. It gives room for chronological comparisons or contrast of ideas and topics. The top row is used to classify the concept while descriptions are written in the rows below.
- The Sentence Method
This method requires that you write every topic or new thoughts and concepts on separate lines that are often numbered. You should note that the goal of note taking is to be able to recall and retain what you have learned over a period of time hence, you are encouraged to use a method that you are most comfortable with.
10. Provide small verbal encouragements and don’t fight silences.
Saying small things like, “yes,” “right,” “that makes sense,” and allowing natural silences to occur without filling them due to your own discomfort goes a long way in building rapport.
11. Avoid internal and external distractions.
Focus on what they’re saying. Don’t allow other thoughts or sounds to sway your concentration.
12 Listen to the tone of their voice.
Vocal tones convey a lot about what a person might be feeling. Think about what their vocal tone implies about their feelings. All feelings have a story learn theirs.