Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. As simple as it may sound to do, certainly listening is an essential key that many of us fail to master in line with effective communication.
Listening is so important and it is not surprising that good listening skills can lead to better productivity initiative that in turn can lead to more creative and innovative work.
Daily we all devote our time listening to what is around us. It could be listening to spoken words or voiced actions since we know that actions can be louder than words.
The certainty is we do a lot of listening, probably more than we care to remember. Almost every word at our disposal is taken in and has consequence that impacts our lives, positively or negatively.
Whether we spend our time in settings such as – meetings, conferences, or the like. We always have the opportunity to gather information as we listen to speakers, reading materials, and watching performances; all in the quest for information. Eventually, we learn one or two things, and act upon it – if it benefits our souls. Knowledge is powerful!
Obviously, many of us think that listening and obeying is the same thing. Given to argument and without doubt, listening differs from obeying; we can’t blow the two together. Most people do commonly conflate the two, by telling a disobedient person that he or she “didn’t listen to me”. The truth is that a person who receives and understands information or an instruction, has listened to the speaker, even if they then chooses not to comply with it or to agree to it. So even though the result is not what the speaker wanted, in the case of disobedient, it doesn’t mean that listening hasn’t taken place.
Whichever way connected, we should be ready or willing to listen to understand. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. And anything that is misunderstood is logically misinterpreted, misread, mistaken, miscalculated and misjudged, causing massive communication breaks down.
Any word, usually a verb, which has a prefix ‘mis’ placed before indicates that its meaning is pointing to the wrong direction.
• Misunderstanding – that moment when we jump to conclusions about what we see and/or hear without having insight to get the meaning of someone or something. However, understanding capacitates to know the WHAT and HOW.
• Misinterpreting – that moment when we jump to conclusions about what we see and/or hear without having insight to get the subjective significance of someone or something. Yet, interpretation capacitates to know COUNTABLE and UNCOUNTABLE sets.
• Misreading – that moment when we jump to conclusions about what we see and/or hear without having insight to get the study of someone or something. But, a good reading capacitates to know the meaning of the LINES and IN-BETWEEN LINES.
• Mistaking – that moment when we jump to conclusions about what we see and/or hear without having insight to get the true identity of someone or something. Still, a true self capacitates to know the RIGHT and WRONG persona. No mixed up or confusion.
• Miscalculating – that moment when we jump to conclusions about what we see and/or hear without having insight to get the value of someone or somethings. Yet, good calculation capacitates to know the ANALYTICAL and ASSESSMENT skills.
• Misjudging – that moment when we jump to conclusions about what we see and/or hear without having insight to get a suitable conclusion about someone or something. Nevertheless, good judgement capacitates to know the CASE and DECLARATION.
Life is much easier when we listen to understand because perception management, motivation and productivity dwell on such.
‘’Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.’’ – James 1:22.
There is a tangible distinction between listening and hearing as “Listening is a psychological act, whilst Hearing is a physiological phenomenon.” That’s why technically an Audiologist does nothing about person’s listening abilities; rather they assess the hearing level and the physiology part of it.
In addition, hearing does happen to occur subconsciously most of the time. In contrast, listening is the interpretative action taken by the listener in order to understand and potentially make meaning out of the sound waves from the speaker. Therefore, hearing refers to the sounds that enter our ears – a physical process that happens automatically. Listening, however, requires more than hearing: it requires focus and concentration effort, both mental and sometimes physical as well. In fact listening is not a passive process; it is ‘active listening’ because it requires attention. Therefore open-mindedness is an afferent factor which makes the difference.
Our ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which we perceive and understand these messages. So it is clear that listening is a comprehensive term used to refer to cognitive and behavioural processes. And the willingness involved is there to motivate us to make an effort to listen.
When listening has fully served its purpose it gives us the opportunity to make decision thereafter, a well informed decision.
Either “Agreeing” or “Disagreeing” with the decision apparently it doesn’t matter much, as long there is a sound affirmation that listening is obviously taking place. In both cases, what is being said is converted to be like – or unlike – something that we already know. Again, this is closing off the possibility of truly taking on board what is being addressed.
What matters is to pin our ears back so that we may understand. Understanding is far from unknowing.
If there is one communication skill we should aim to master, then listening is it – thus listening to understand.