To me, the most important listening skill one can practice is knowing the proper manner in which you interrupt the speaker and ask for clarification. Sure, it can feel awkward to interrupt, but if the you do not have clarification of what someone's spoken words mean in the very present, you will not be able to listen to your full capacity in the immediate future. The words, 'Excuse me', help in the beginning. Example: "Excuse me for interrupting, but I am not sure what you meant when you said .........Could you please rephrase/re-explain/ reword that for me?" or..."Excuse me, I did not understand what you just said." Feel confident that if you were uncertain of what was said, so were many other people. You would be appreciated for asking for clarification.
If interrupting is not allowed, write down what confused you and ask for clarification when questions are permitted.
While you gain clarity, speakers get feedback about improving their delivery.
I think ask996 is onto something. Teachers at any grade level cannot just assume that students have listening skills built in, or worse, make a character judgment about kids who appear not to listen well to instructions. Listening is a specific strand in most states' ELA curriculum frameworks now; but how many teachers specifically instruct students on HOW to listen?
Whenever question like this arise, I always think back to my early years as a teacher. I just assumed listening was an inherent ability we all had. Now I know that students can be taught strategies to help them learn to listen better. Even more than that, students who fail to listen and follow instructions, might actually be listening and already processing before the instructions are finished. Writing the instructions down for students to see is always beneficial to aiding the listening and processing.
Make no mistake about it, but active learning skills are very difficult to grasp and to foster. There is a gift involved in being able to actively listen and partake in what another individual experiences and ensure that the speaker is validated and fully understood. Any relationship, in terms of business or personal, is predicated upon listening and hearing what is being said. Both components must be present, and this is where active listening techniques are needed. Some such skills are being able to listen clearly without seeking to bring the conversation back to the listener, or ensuring that a clear line of communication is maintained by occasionally rephrasing what was said in one's own words. At the same time, the ability to listen means to essentially focus out other external and internal distractions so that the speaker feels as if they are the only person in the room and in the listener's consciousness at that moment.
Listening is always difficult because to some extent, it relies on memory to retain what was spoken before. Also, there are many underlying subtexts to what a person says, it may be difficult to comprehend exactly what they say in the way that they intend it.
In any communication listening as important as talking. Some people believe that the ration of listening to talking we do should be in the ratio mouth versus ears. That is amount of listening should be two time the talking. People believe that when we hear someone talking that is listening. But effective listening involves not just hearing but also taking mental note of what is being said. Many people often fail to do this frequently.
There are many causes of poor or ineffective listening. We generally do not pay sufficient attention to what is being said assuming that listening is an automatic process. This lack of attention is likely to be more pronounced when we are not interest in the subject of discussion. Even when are paying close attention we may be distracted by something like a telephone call or some other activity happening in the vicinity.
Listening can become ineffective also by the thought process of the listener. For example the listener may start thinking about or rehearsing the answer to some thing that is being said. This tendency makes listening even more difficult when the listener starts interrupting the speaker before he or she has finished speaking, or immediately after other person stops speaking. This creates a psychological atmosphere of confrontation which is bad for encouraging constructive communication. Very similar to rehearsing is mentally evaluating what is being said before fully listening to what is being said. Such problems are aggravated when there is a feeling of distrust or lack of credibility between the people communicating. Finally, physical fatigue or some other physical discomfort can also interfere wit communication.
People can eliminate all these problems of by taking care the physical environment and timing for communication is right. Plus, with practice they can also develop mental discipline to listen carefully without rehearsing, judging, or interrupting.