RECEIVING MESSAGES Listening

The key to receiving messages effectively is listening. Listening is a combination of hearing what another person says and psychological involvement with the person who is talking. Listening requires more than hearing words. It requires a desire to understand another human being, an attitude of respect and acceptance, and a willingness to open one’s mind to try and see things from another’s point of view.

Listening requires a high level of concentration and energy. It demands that we set aside our own thoughts and agendas, put ourselves in another’s shoes and try to see the world through that person’s eyes. True listening requires that we suspend judgment, evaluation, and approval in an attempt to understand another is frame of reference, emotions, and attitudes. Listening to understand is, indeed, a difficult task!

Often, people worry that if they listen attentively and patiently to a person who is saying something they disagree with, they are inadvertently sending a message of agreement.

When we listen effectively we gain information that is valuable to understanding the problem as the other person sees it. We gain a greater understanding of the other person’s perception. After all, the truth is subjective and a matter of perception. When we have a deeper understanding of another’s perception, whether we agree with it or not, we hold the key to understanding that person’s motivation, attitude, and behavior. We have a deeper understanding of the problem and the potential paths for reaching agreement.

Listening

      1. Requires concentration and energy

2. Involves a psychological connection with the speaker

3. Includes a desire and willingness to try and see things from another’s perspective

4. Requires that we suspend judgment and evaluation

“Listening in dialogue is listening more to meaning than to words . . .In true listening, we reach behind the words, see through them, to find the person who is being revealed. Listening is a search to find the treasure of the true person as revealed verbally and nonverbally. There is the semantic problem, of course. The words bear a different connotation for you than they do for me. Consequently, I can never tell you what you said, but only what I heard. I will have to rephrase what you have said, and check it out with you to make sure that what left your mind and heart arrived in my mind and heart intact and without distortion.”

Learning to be an effective listener is a difficult task for many people. However, the specific skills of effective listening behavior can be learned. It is our ultimate goal to integrate these skills into a sensitive and unified way of listening.

Key Listening Skills:

Nonverbal:

Being aware of the speaker’s nonverbal messages;

Verbal:

Using reflective listening tools such as paraphrasing, reflecting, summarizing, and questioning to increase understanding of the message and help the speaker tell his story.