Listening .. A skill taken for granted

Listening is a skill many of us take for granted. If used properly this skill can win you more friends and a good reputation quite easily. Human beings are usually very expressive and in the race of showing off our views we do not care to listen. Listening is a best and cheapest gift we can give to people around us.

God (our creator) has given a clear message to us by giving us one mouth which looks best shut and two ears that cannot be closed that we have to do more listening than talking.

We cannot help hearing the sounds, but many a time we do not listen to what is being said. We just hear and don’t listen. We listen and do not comprehend at times.

Listening can be of various types like.

Active listening: – Here you are totally attentive and involved in what is being said. You give signals indicating ‘I understand’.

Passive listening: – This is what I call hearing. You hear sounds and

respond, but do not comprehend.

Supportive listening: – this is where a listener is providing support (emotional) and encouragement. It provides

strength, approval and is being in favor of the


Stress is inversely proportional to your listening ability. The higher your stress the worst will be your listening

We speak at an average of 100-150 words per minute where as we think at an average of 500-800 words per/minute

You can listen to silence also as silence is a means of communication

Silence can be divided into

Warm silence: – There is lot of warmth being felt and there is no need for words for communication. Everything is being understood. (people in love)

Cold silence:- This is a way of communicating anger/ hatred etc ( A girl staring at the boy friend who bought her very silly cheap valentines gift)

Neutral silence :- as existing between 2 strangers (two people traveling on a bus and not interested in each other)

Demanding silence :- here a person demands an explanation without communicating with words but expressing his/her thought the body language ( A wife who puts the plate in front of the husband who has come home late and stands there looking at him without saying a word… )

To be a good listener;

  • Ø Be yourself
  • Ø Talk as an equal. Just because you are listening to someone doesn’t make you a great person. Never think you are doing a favor to someone by listening to their woes
  • Ø Listen actively with attention. Express your interest through gestures, eye contact, body language and comforting words
  • Ø Show interest and empathy
  • Ø Smile (not if it is very inappropriate for the topic)
  • Ø Receive the feeling of the talker, not the problem. It is how a person feels towards anything that is more important
  • Ø Remove bias filters
  • Ø Rephrase your understanding
  • Ø Take special care if you disagree
  • Ø Do not assume what the caller is going to say
  • Ø Be patient . your impatience will make a person alert and warn him to be aware of you
  • Ø Carry silences. Be comfortable with silence

Points of bad listening

Calling the subject un-interesting. No subject is un-interesting. There are only people who are either interested or not interested in a subject

Criticism of the speakers delivery (better say I am not following you properly rather than you are not being clear)

Getting over stimulated (excited , aroused, influenced) by one point in the talk

Listening only for facts

Trying to outline everything

Faking attention. Remember ‘attention’ has to be genuine. It cannot be faked out

Tolerating or creating distractions. It is very difficult to stop and talk again especially when you are talking about emotional pain

Avoiding difficult matters

Letting emotion –laden words throw us out of tune

Wasting the differential between speech, speed and thought speed

Being under stress. Stress is universally proportional to listening quality