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COMMUNICATION

WORDS

MICHELLE P. TONNESEN

Do You Hear What I Hear? In the age of emails, texts and emojis, we often underestimate the need for listening. We place most of the emphasis on sending messages rather than receiving them, and very few of us can be said to be really effective listeners. Nevertheless, listening is the communication skill the majority use most frequently. Research shows that in general we spend 70 to 80 percent of our waking hours in some form of communication. writing, 16 percent reading, 30 percent speaking, and 45 percent listening. At the same time studies also confirm that most of us are listeners. Immediately after listening to a 10-minute oral presentation, the average listener has heard, understood and retained 50 percent of what was said. Within 48 hours, that drops off another 50 percent to a final level of 25 percent . In other words, we often retain only one fourth of what we hear. Just think what you’ve been missing!

There is no true communication without understanding. Through displaying understanding we encourage others to expand on what they are saying, to trust that we have heard them, and we help ensure that we have been involved with a successful delivery of the message. It’s disconcerting if we don’t get an occasional “yes”, “no” or “I see” in a conversation. In addition, visual feedback includes nods, smiles, frowns and body language – all of which impact the way a message is sent and received.

Be aware of what may prevent

Use active listening. When we listen we hear what has been said on . We either associate the information with ourselves (internal listening), we hear it from the other person’s perspective (focused listening), or we have a complete, holistic view ( ). Global listening involves listening to everything that is happening during an encounter. This will include internal matters, the other person’s perspective, and other clues such as body language, the environment, and any “nois e” evident.

Communication is not just about sending and receiving – the end message is likely to be impacted by “noise”. “Noise” can take different forms: It can be physical noise such as traffic or other people talking. It can also be semantic noise such as different languages/dialects or preconceived

Use your speed of thought wisely. Most of us speak at the rate of about 125 words per minute. However, we have the mental capacity to understand and think at almost four times that speed! This difference between speaking speed and thought speed means that when we listen to the average speaker, we’re using only 25

The success of meetings, interviews and your daily phone calls depends largely on listening. So, how can you improve your listening skills? Cultivate good listening practice. Listening is hard work! The concentration needed requires just as much energy as talking. As a good listener, you will consciously “tune in” to the speaker and deliberately free your mind of other concerns. You will then be ready to begin listening effectively.

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attitudes towards the sender or the message. P and emotions all contribute to clouding reality and impact communication. By actively listening we can diminish the negative power of noise.

percent of our mental capacity. We still have 75 percent to do something else with. The brain naturally looks to fill the gap. Good listeners use their thought speed to concentrate on the content of the message and search for meaning. Do you think you’re a good listener? In sum, an active listener communicates that the speaker is heard and understood, and they do not evaluate the speaker’s ideas whilst they are listening. Active listening is demanding – it requires patience, understanding, empathy, and practice. Even though listening is our most utilised communication skill, it is also the skill in which we’ve had the least training. We have much more formal training in other major communication skills — writing, reading, speaking – and few people have had any formal or informal training in listening. Hopefully, this article has given you a greater awareness of the mechanisms to improve your individual listening abilities – thus empowering you to be a better contributor to your team, organisation or even in your relationship.

Five Tips for Effective Listening 1 2 Paraphrase the content – use your own words

Appreciate the implications – show your understanding of the content

3 4

Empathise – put yourself in the speaker’s shoes

5

R attention and look alert!

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THE AGENDA SUPPLEMENT

August 2015 | the LOCAL issue  

Beach Etiquette, Not Sex in the City - but Definitely Sex in the Island, Places, Windsor & Wales Summer Soiree, Recipes, Simon Barron’s firs...

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