What is Listening? Objectives and Process.

Meaning and Definition of Listening

Listening is a crucial aspect of effective communication. While hearing is simply the act of perceiving a sound via the ears, listening involves hearing as well as understanding what is heard. The ability to listen means the ability to correctly receive and interpret messages. If does not listen with attention, messages can easily be misunderstood. Listening is a skill that can be developed through patience and practice. The importance of listening extends far beyond personal setting into academic and professional setting.

Listening also shows an understanding of and interest in the topic being discussed. Our personal assumptions and beliefs can often distort what we listen to. The listener, thus, should be careful to concentrate completely on what the speaker is saying to him. One way of indicating to the speaker that he is being genuinely listened to is to ask questions or provide him valuable feedback. The listener can paraphrase and summarise what the speaker has said after regular intervals and conform with the speaker if that was what he meant by politely saying  “what i gathered from’’, what you said is that or, Correct me if I’m wrong, but…”Also ,brief responses such as , ‘’hmmm… interesting idea’’, or simply nodding one’s head regularly can encourage the speaker to talk more openly and freely and can assure him that the person he is speaking to to is paying adequate attention.

According to M.V. Rodriques___” Listening is a process of receiving, interesting and reacting to the messages received from the communication sender”.

According to Leland Brown___” Listening is an activity that can  be turned on and off consciously and unconsciously. It starts with the receiver’s becoming aware that they should listen and become attentive to what is being said”.

Objectives of Listening

  • Develops and builds strong relationships. Listening allows individuals to know themselves and other in a better way.
  • Obtain and understand information.
  • Objectively evaluates the message, which involves estimating its correctness and also judging its relevance to a given situation.
  • People may also listen to something for their own delight , listening to a friend’s experiences on a trip he had recently undertaken, listening to music or listening to birds chirping.
  • People may also listen to understand the problems of others who might want to share and lighten the burden of their sorrows. Someone may also listen because he wants some advice concerning the necessary action to take regarding a particular issue.

Essentials of Listening

Listening skills can be developed by practicing the following things:

  • Listen with patience:  The speaker deserves a patient hearing even if the listener does not agree with him. The listener can encourage the speaker to continue talking in simple ways such as nodding, or saying ‘hmm..’or’ Goon’.
  • Understand the Emotions of the Speaker: It is important  for the listener to understand the speaker both intellectually and emotionally. Effective listeners must concentrate fully on what a speaker is saying because many speakers are not able to express their emotions in a clear manner.
  • Restatement of summery: The listener must reframe in summary form what the speaker has said to him,  and do so in such a way that it reassures the speaker and makes him  go on talking . For example when a speaker finishes complaining about how unhappy he is in his current job because of his manager’s manipulative and dishonest behaviour, the listener can  summarise his long angry speech by simply focusing on the crucial reasons of his dissatisfaction and say, ‘’So what you are saying is that your  manager is unfair and only promotes his favorites over other who work much harder then them’’, but in doing so, he must keep his tone neutral and try not to force his own assumptions or conclusions regarding the issue on the speaker.
  • Set Aside Time for questions and Discussion: Allotting separate time for questions and answers as well as discussion, when the speaker has finished talking, is always a good idea. This helps to separate formal from informal communication and makes the usage of language less cumbersome and more interesting . In other words, it does away with any officialese that might have otherwise been part of the conversation.
  • Avoid Interrupting the Speaker: An effective listener should not try to express his views while the speaker is expressing his own as this could repress what the speaker is trying to say.
  • Talk Less, Listen More: If two people have communicating effectively, both of them should give more weightage to listening attentively as against offering lengthy explanations.
  • Establish a Close Relationship with the Speaker: It is a good idea for the listener to try and form a friendly equation with the speaker based on trust and goodwill.

Elements of Effective Listening

  1. Hearing: To hear is to perform the physiological act of perceiving sounds as they reach our ears. It is essential to be an alert listener in order to be a good listener.
  2. Filtering: The remove of unwanted stimuli is known as filtering. The stimuli may be internal as well as external. Internal stimuli can be the work deadlines, information needs for decision-making, or headache, etc. The external stimuli can be spoken words or physical experience that affect our senses, the things beyond our control, etc. Filtering enables a listener to listen only to the important stimuli.
  3. Interpreting: To interpret the message means to make understand the sense of the message being sent. It is significant for the listener to understand the sense of the message which is sent by the sender.
  4. Evaluating: The listener must assess the message, i.e., he must evaluating what is the essence of the message, what is being said in the message, whether it is partly or fully right or wrong, respectful or disrespectful, intelligent or stupid, logical or illogical, etc.
  5. Responding: Having listened to what the speaker has to say, the listener must respond to him so as to indicate that he has comprehended what was conveyed to him.

Listening Process

Listening Process
1. Sensing/Selecting Stage: A number of stimuli surround the listener but he only choose the relevant ones. He then transforms them into a message.

2. Interpreting Stage: During this stage, the listener tries to interpret or assign meaning to the message. In this process, the listener is confronted with many emotional, environmental, linguistic, semantic or psychological hurdles.

3. Evaluating Stage: At this stage, the listener evaluates the message of the speaker and examines it to form a point of view, ask himself what the crucial aspect of the speaker’s argument are, infers conclusions from the speaker’s comments and checks has said. At times previous experiences, sentiments, and belief disturb the listener and make the evaluation process hard for the listener.

4. Responding Stage: At this stage, the listener has interpreted and analysed the message and is prepared to respond to the speaker. The listener’s body language and other non-verbal cues let the speaker known whether what he has said has made sense to the listener or not and also if the listener has been only pretending to pay attention.

5. Remembering Stage: This is the last stage of listening. If one listens effectively, one may remember the parts what one has heard. In fact, how much one remembers of a talk or a speech is often an indication of how much attention one was paying to it, While the presentation was going on. It is unfortunate that regardless of how good a speaker is, most listeners can recall only 10-25% of a presentation or speech. For this reason, a speaker who wants to make a good impression must always present his points in an organised way, aided by good visuals, so that his audience remembers what he has said when he is over with the presentation.