Lend An Ear And Grin From Ear To Ear

Abstract:

Listening is a Gift and should be spoken

Main Article:

Many among us misunderstand what communication is all about, probably underscoring ONLY the magnitude and overemphasising the relevance of talking, thereby sidestepping the equally crucial art of listening.

Imagine a hypothetical situation where you are called into a room by your manager for a pre-appraisal meeting and one of the discordant topics comes up for discussion. Even as the manager is trying to put across his point, you divert away from the communication unintentionally by staring at the flower vase on the table. A few minutes later, the manager naturally raises his voice to desperately seek your attention and you have no option but to rejoin the conversation. As you have already missed pressing links in the manager’s train of thought, you are likely to interpose with pointless queries, distracting the manager further. The onus is now on you to deliver your response. In the eagerness to reply sensibly, you may think about possible smart questions, also in order to give away the impression that you were actually listening to him right from the start. In this complex scenario, you are most likely to miss the rest of the conversation and the gist of the entire talk. The result can be quite catastrophic, particularly at the doorstep of an appraisal month.

Inarguably, listening is a gift and should be spoken about in the same breath as say the skills of speech. Listening is multi-faceted, highly useful craft which can help you in versatile ways. A good listener is guaranteed to develop better understanding of others, aiding her to resolve disputes, find solutions to complex issues and build relationships.

At work, the skill of listening adds a whole new dynamic dimension, a valuable one that. A good listener is bound to develop his career with great confidence and enviable maturity. Quite often than not, listening is a vital ingredient in the recipe to success.

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The famous American financier, stock investor, philanthropist and political consultant of early 20th century, Bernard Mannes Baruch, encapsulates the vitality and vigour involved in the deft art of listening. “Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”

Eye contact is one of the weighty aspects that powers the skill of listening, which again is undermined by many in their conversations. A lot of factors can come in the way of efficacious eye contact during communication. Shyness, guilt, cultural taboos are a few among those that can inhibit eye contact. Proper eye contact ensures more focus and also helps to ascertain the tone and tenor of the speaker in a conversation.

Another key is to screen out all distractions that could prove detrimental to refined communication, including any extraneous activity going around, a framed photograph or anything that diverts your attention in the background or any disturbing noise. Moreover, you should not be detracted by your own thought process and biased prejudices while in a conversation.

Jumping into conclusions without listening well can put you in the soup. Any speaker is utilising the medium of language to put across his thoughts and feelings and you wouldn’t be able to grasp what those feelings and thoughts unless you give the deserved attention through clear listening. At no point, you should be a sentence grabber. The golden rule here is to keep an open mind and try to picture the situations or matters the speaker is trying to portray.

When you are listening, give full attention and don’t go astray by spending time to plan what to say next. The simple truth is that you can’t rehearse properly and listen carefully at the same time. Your thought process while listening to someone should be tuned in to the speaker and what she is saying. No matter what is being said, even things that may bore you, cent percent concentration should be devoted to the speaker.

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Even if the thoughts start to wander off and follow another path, try to bring them back to the channel of listening by refocusing hard.

Another fundamental metric in the art of listening is to catch the pace of the speaker, however slow or fast it may be. We all speak differently in terms of pace. If you are a fast thinker and an agile talker, the onus is on you to relax your pace for the slower communicator or for a person who is struggling to express his thoughts well or failing to put across a point by effective use of language.

Interruption is natural in any conversation as it is a dialogue rather than a monologue. But there is a way to interrupt in a polite manner. Interruption by means of questions should be done in a way to enrich the conversation further and make the time spent on it useful.

If you are looking to suggest an idea that is timely and fixes well to the situation or a point made by the speaker, you need to ask her permission with a polite interception “I would love to chip in with the idea…”. Again, the timing of such interceptions needs to be perfect, ensuring the smooth flow for the speaker even after the interruption. It is better to wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions.

It may be noted that you should not divert the topic with an unnecessary query or interception. Even you do so, it is your responsibility to get the conversation back on track.

In case, the speaker’s feelings are unclear, occasionally paraphrase the content of the message or context so as to get more clarity on the issue. You may give back the feeling to the speaker that you are in her line of thought and the best way is to reflect the speaker’s feeling with appropriate facial expressions. A perfectly-timed ‘hmm’ or a nod can matter a lot, giving confidence to the speaker as well as taking the conversation ahead in the right direction.

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You should never give too much focus on speaker’s accent or her speech mannerisms to the point they become distractions for both or all the parties involved in an interaction.

Paying attention to what ISN’T said is decisive too and this principle holds well even when there’s no face-to-face contact. For example, if you are talking to someone over phone, you can understand a lot about the other person by carefully listening to the tone and cadence of her voice.

During a face-to-face interaction, you can detect an array of emotions whether it is enthusiasm, boredom, anger, happiness or irritation by looking into the expression in the eyes, the positioning of the shoulder and the set of the mouth. The expressions, words and related sound combine together to form the core of the interaction and a good listener would ensure that none of these factors are missed out during a conversation.


BUDDING MANAGERS

DECEMBER 2014 ISSUE


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Author:  admin
Posted On:  Monday, 12 January, 2015 - 10:33

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