Someone with good listening habits pays full attention to the speaker and asks follow-up questions to indicate that she is listening. In addition, the listener does not interrupt and resists the urge to finish the speaker's thoughts and to speak about what interests her. Someone with poor listening habits interrupts the speaker, does not make eye contact with the speaker, and seems distracted. A poor listener also resists listening if the subject is difficult for her or tries to change the subject.
A plan to improve listening skills is to ask the speaker for feedback after your conversation. Ask the other person if you've followed these behaviors:
- not interrupting
- asking follow-up questions
- speaking 25% of the time, listening 75% of the time
- seeming engaged, not distracted
- reflecting back to the speaker what he or she said
- matching the tone of voice, volume of voice, and body stance of the speaker
- letting the speaker finish his or her points
You can ask the speaker if you fulfilled these tenets of good listening and, if not, you can work on those skills in subsequent conversations and ask for continued feedback from the speaker.
Listening is an incredibly useful skill in both business and personal relationships. Here are some insightful indicators of strong listening skills from a rubric that I made for my students:
Listening Strengths include:
- Listens attentively and respectfully to others' ideas, opinions, points of view
- Asks insightful questions
- Encourages speaker through appropriate use of posture and body language
- can identify purpose for listening and appropriately adapt focus as needed
- Can decipher context, tone, and point of view
- Evaluates presentation strategies and persuasive devices
- Compares and connects speaker's ideas to prior knowledge, insights, or other texts
Based on the above criteria, you could complete a self-evaluation and then base your plan on developing any weaker areas. Strategies for improving listening skills could include removing distractions, taking notes, or sitting closer to the speaker.
The simple act of listening can be such a huge benefit. Listen enables you to fully take in a concept as opposed to just reading it and not understanding what is going on. Listening also allows us to interpret emotion efficiently as opposed to just looking at someone's expression. However there can be times where our listen is not the best and we can think the teacher said an assignment was due 21st when it's actually the 1st. A way to improve listening can be by asking questions and making sure that you heard right. Also record lectures and discussions to listen to them again. Practice makes perfect!