To Speak or Not To Speak

23 Apr

Have you ever snapped out of a reverie, only to find that you have lost track of the conversation around you? If you have, don’t worry – you are not alone. Research has shown that humans generally listen at a comprehension rate of less than 25%. Miscommunication between parents and children, or bosses and employees, attests to the void that exists between what is said and what is heard. The million-dollar question then is: what can we do to become better listeners? While there is no exact science in place to perfect listening skills, keeping the following simple tips in mind can help:

Pay attention

It may seem intuitive, but many people often forget that “hearing” is not the same as “listening.” Direct your full attention towards the speaker – stop talking and stop doing other things when someone is speaking to you. Paying attention is the first step towards retaining information.

Be an active listener

Simple non-verbal gestures such as nodding your head, or raising your eyebrows at the right cue can encourage the speaker to be more open about what he or she is trying to convey. Active listening through affirmative words or actions requires a little effort, but makes the process more valuable for both the speaker and the listener.

Don’t think; just listen

Many people confuse listening with analyzing. Although it is important to not take all information at its face value, the process of analyzing should be kept separate from the process of gathering information. Reading between the lines while listening to the speaker, or thinking about what you are going to say next, both reduce the attention you pay to the speaker.

Repeat what you know

To make sure you have gathered the highlights of what the speaker wanted to convey, summarize and repeat what you know. Ask the speaker to fill in the gaps. Ask questions. Ask for clarifications. It is now your turn to speak.

by Arushi Bhalla



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