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Want Better Conversations? Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 813

Essay

Introduction

Listening is an essential skill in our life. Listening is critical to effective communication, without which a messenger is frustrated because of misunderstandings and communication breakdowns. Having better listening skills enables a person to understand and interpret a message without any misunderstanding. Many employers have recognized the importance of this issue and have developed training programs to boost their employees’ listening skills. Good listening skills in a workplace lead to fewer mistakes, customer satisfaction, better relationships, and higher productivity. This paper explores the possible benefits of effective listening skills, ways to improve listening skills, and barriers to effective listening.

Benefits of Effective Listening

Acquire Information

It is estimated that an average adult spends about 70% of their time communicating, where 50% is dedicated to listening. Therefore, it is essential that you develop practical listening skills as you practically spend significant time on it. Being a good listener goes beyond your capacity to recall information but also to acquire knowledge. According to Iwankovitsch (2001), listening is one of the easiest and quickest methods of amassing information. For instance, instead of spending hours reading about a particular topic, you may resolve to inquire from someone or watch a tutorial and obtain the information in minimal time.

Better Relationships

Good listening skills improve relationships, whether at a personal level, relations with employees, other staff, or customers. Listening carefully and providing quality responses helps others to feel understood and appreciated, which creates mutual respect. Effective communication enables you to connect with your sponsors, clients, and any other external parties. Besides, customers who feel valued and listened to by a business are more likely to remain loyal.

Higher Productivity

Effective listening enhances productivity. In an organization where effective listening is lacking, it is more likely that employees do not know their roles. They might not have a sound understanding of the company’s objectives or expectations. Through listening, you can obtain the necessary information regarding your roles, company expectations, hence improving productivity (Iwankovitsch, 2001). Effective listening also solves or prevents possible problems, which ensures that employees are engaged in meaningful work at any given time.

Improving Listening Skills

Paying attention and actively listening to a speaker underpins effective communication. At times, a person is easily distracted by the surroundings or personal thoughts and not listening. However, this is something that can be improved with relevant training, practice, and patience. Contrary to many beliefs that a good listener absorbs everything from a speaker and provides just enough feedback, Zenger and Folkman (2016) hypothesized that a skilled listener amplifies and reinforces a speakers’ sentiments by providing valuable feedback. The authors offer several suggestions to help people improve their listening skills as discussed below.

According to Zenger and Folkman (2016), effective listening is a two-way dialogue. As such, the authors encourage people to periodically ask relevant questions during a talk instead of just listening while another person speaks. Such questions generally challenge the existing assumptions but in a positive way.  Asking questions demonstrates understanding and complete comprehension of the topic that a person seeks additional information (Zenger & Folkman, 2016).

Good listening involves a cooperative conversation where feedback flows seamlessly in either direction. This implies neither of the parties involved in the communication is defensive about comments made by the other party. In comparison, poor listeners tend to be competitive with a motive of picking out errors in others’ opinions or reasoning; they use their silence to prepare for the subsequent response (Choy, 2019). While this might make you a better debater, it does not make you an effective listener.

Barriers to Effective Listening

Good listening skills are beneficial, and individuals with these skills have higher chances of achieving professional success. Thus, it is essential you identify factors that may hinder effective listening and identify ways to overcome them. For instance, excessive talking, prejudice and expecting a speaker to share your sentiments. While talking may help one to argue or sell their message, it may hinder others from listening (Su and Wilkins, 2014). Prejudice is a predetermined irrational feeling or opinion. It is doubtful that you will listen to a person if you already have a predetermined opinion about them.

Conclusion

Effective listening is a vital skill that can enable an organization to achieve its objectives and goals. More so, organizations will find this skill necessary to remain competitive in the current technological global scenario. Implementing the above-discussed tips can help enhance listening skills at all levels, be it professionally or in personal relations. Besides, this will ensure there is no breakdown in communication thus successful process leading to organizational productivity.

References

Choy, E. (2019, November 3). Want Better Conversations? Learn 3 Listening Skills from StoryCorps. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/estherchoy/2019/11/03/3-listening-skills-from-storycorps/?sh=7dc6eaf268e4

Iwankovitsch, R. (2001). The importance of listening. Language Arts Journal of Michigan, 17(2), 2. https://doi.org/10.9707/2168-149X.1314

Su, A. and Wilkins, M. (2014). What Gets in the Way of Listening. [online] Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2014/04/what-gets-in-the-way-of-listening.

Zenger, J., & Folkman, J. (2016, July 14). What Great Listeners Actually Do. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2016/07/what-great-listeners-actually-do

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