Effective communication involves conveying information, to be received accurately with the intended meaning and also listening carefully to get the main point being passed across by the communicator, as well as make them feel heard and understood. It involves a number of skills to be used ranging from nonverbal communication, engaged listening and assertive communication (Kratz and Kratz 67). The main focus will be listening and its drawbacks, and how to improve our listening skills in order to become effective listeners. Listening effectively and grasping the main message being passed across takes a lot of keenness on the listeners side. It takes time and effort to learn the skills of effective listening and communication.
There are a number of reasons why people do not listen effectively thus end up missing the point of discussion, some of these reasons include: -
Message overload, people find it difficult to focus on one message when they are bombarded with a lot of information at the same time and all these demand ones full attention. They range from face to face conversations from friends, at the work place, in school. Personal social media is yet another front, which include text messages, emails, and phone calls. Mass media also puts across messages to be synthesized by people. All these information makes one become ineffective when listening because of lack of proper attention on even the most important pieces of information (Hoppe 27). For example, having the television on while attempting to listen to your neighbor strike a conversation with you at the same time you have a phone call that needs answering due to its importance.
Preoccupation, peoples thoughts tend to wander off when listening, especially if one has personal concerns that have not been settled.
They focus more on their personal issues forgetting about the message being passed across, missing out on the important points being put across. For example, you just rushed a friend to hospital in critical condition and are back to attend a lecture, one will definitely be preoccupied with how the friend is faring on at the hospital than concentrate in class.
Rapid thought, people are capable of understanding speech at the rate of 600 words per minute but only speak 100 words per minute (Kratz and Kratz 91). This gives individuals extra time to meditate while someone is talking. Listeners most often fall into the temptation of thinking about issues of personal interests and daydreaming. This in the end makes them lose out on the information being communicated. For example, one has planned a road trip out of town over the weekend, the anticipation will make ones mind to wander off during a lecture or even at the office during meetings.
Effort, it takes hard work to effectively listen to others. It involves physical changes as those of a workout, quickened heartbeat, increased respiration and rise in body temperature. All this is draining on the listener that is why people chose not to listen deliberately or make an effort to get the whole message.
External noise, distractions are presented in the physical world make it difficult to pay attention to a speaker. Listening efficiency decreases especially, when in a crowded, hot room seated next to people discussing personal issues and outside the room traffic noises can be clearly heard. One cannot understand well even if they intend to.
Faulty assumptions, people tend to assume in situations of familiar topic under discussion. It makes them believe they are listening carefully when in real sense they are not. They subconsciously believe they know what the speaker wants to communicate, thus they do not pay much attention in the end they lose out on the information (Hoppe 46). For example, during a presentation at work on communication from a colleague in the department of procurement and one is from marketing, where communication is basic. The marketer tends to brush off his/her colleague on the basis that they are better versed with communication and the presenter would not add much value.
Lack of apparent advantages, people find it better to speak than listen. This leads to disruptions when communicating, as people tend to find their input more important than what is being communicated.
Lack of training, effective listening is a skill that needs to training and nurturing. This improves competence on the listeners side when communicating. Listening is the least taught, most used and first learnt communication activity. Hearing problems, at times people suffer from physiological hearing problems that hinders them from communicating effectively with others. This can be frustrating on both the communicator and listeners side. For example, people whose spouses have a hearing impairment find it hard to communicate about some issues, this frustrates them on both ends as one feels ignored.
The main reasons that inhibit me from effectively listening at this point in time are, rapid thoughts and preoccupation. When rapid thoughts cross my mind, I tend to wander off quickly when listening to a communicator especially on personal issues that are of interest to me at that point in time. Many time l have day dreamt and lost focus in discussions that are of importance especially during lectures. For example, one time I had made plans to travel to a different state for vacation, this made me wander off as l fantasized about how it will be. In the long run l missed out on important information from my lecture it forced me to look for the missing message from classmates.
I also tend to be preoccupied with many ideas on my mind and in the end fail to listen to what is being said. At this given time l will be concentrating more on whatever am thinking about.
In order to improve my listening skills in reference to rapid thought crossing my mind, I should use that time to meditate on the information being passed across, this will make me have a better understanding of the message. Under preoccupation I would try to be part of the communicating process by providing feedback to seek clarification of certain points. Showing interest in whatever is being put across is yet another strategy of avoiding distractions. Focus more on the speaker while observing their nonverbal cues ranging from tonal variations, body language and facial expressions, maintain eye contact as well this will enable one to reinforce the message being put across.
Hoppe, Michael H. Active Listening. Greensboro, N.C.: Center for Creative Leadership, 2006. Print.
Kratz, Dennis M and Abby Robinson Kratz. Effective Listening Skills. Chicago: Irwin Professional Pub., 1995. Print.
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