How To Improve Your Listening Skills

How To Improve Your Listening Skills

Whenever we are just nodding our heads off or daydreaming, we usually hear people asking if we are really listening to them. It is often thought that listening just means to sit back and the speaker talk. Another thing is that listening is often taken as a passive activity. Whereas listening can be twice as important than talking. Even as a student we are spending most of the time listening, still we may find it difficult to communicate those thoughts in other areas of life. Here are a few points that determine the importance of listening skills and how can it be improved. 


How to develop listening skills in students: 


Here are 7 tips that can develop listening skills in students:


  1. Use audiobooks to applications, that can help in improving listening skills in students
  2. Teachers can read a topic loud, and then have the class discuss and reflect on the content.
  3. Give children assignments group presentations.
  4. Try to ask open-ended questions.
  5. Assign students tasks and activities that encourage critical thinking.
  6. Offer students reflecting learning opportunities.
  7. Try to reinforce active listening in students.


Types of listening skills: 


Basically there are two types of listening skills, which have further different kind under each type.


Discriminative listening:


This type of listening is developed in the initial stages. Perhaps even before birth in the womb of the mother. This is the most basic kind of listening and does not require any effort as such in understanding the meaning of words or the phrases but just different sounds are produced. For example, in the early childhood, a distinction can be made between different sounds that get improved as the child grows up. As we move from childhood towards adulthood this distinction increases with the capacity to distinguish between different sounds.


Comprehensive  Listening:


Comprehensive listening is a broad term and it basically includes understanding the messages being communicated to the other person. It is also fundamental to all listening sub-categories. For a person to develop comprehensive listening the listener first has to have an appropriate vocabulary and other language skills. This kind of listening gets more complex as the same message given to two people might result in understanding it with different meanings. This is usually seen in a classroom or an office meeting setting where a number of different meanings can be derived from what had been said.


Comprehensive listening is also complimented by sub-messages through non-verbal communication like the tone of the voice, body language, and gestures. This kind of non-verbal signals can help immensely in communication and comprehension but might also confuse and might lead to misunderstanding. In a lot of listening situations, it becomes crucial to get a clarification and use this kind of skills such as reflection aid comprehension.


10 steps to effective listening: 


Here are the ten steps that can help you to have an effective listening:


  1. Face the speaker and always maintain an eye contact.
  2. Pay attention, but be relaxed.
  3. Have an open mind and listen to them without judging them.
  4. Carefully listen to the words and try to understand what the speaker is saying.
  5. Never interrupt the speaker, nor impose your thinking on them.
  6. When the speaker takes a pause only then ask a question.
  7. Never ask things unnecessarily, only ask to have a better understanding.
  8. Try to feel what the speaker is feeling and communicating.
  9. Try to give simple and regular feedback to the speaker
  10. Focus on the non-verbal cues like facial expression and gestures.


So these were the 10 ways to be a good listener.


How to self-train my active listening skills: 


It is important to pay attention to the ability to listen and the sad part is that most of the times listening are virtually ignored. Here are a few ways through which one can self-train the active listening skills:


Be in the moment:


You must have probably thought that it was annoying and disrespectful while talking to a person who is distracted the entire time. Therefore when someone is talking to you it is important that you are present in the moment completely. Avoid looking at your phone or if you are thinking of something like making a call or sending a text, let the other person know.


    Pick up key points:  


    Try to focus on the important things one has to say during a conversation. Then carry the communication forward using those keywords. This is going to have a good impression on the speaker and it is also going to improve your active listening skills.


    How to improve concentration while listening:


    The important thing that must be kept in mind while listening is to have focus and to do that one must make sure that they take interest in the subject that is being talked about. Here are some of the suggestions that can help with that:


    Listen with all senses:


    This means that don’t just listen to what’s being said with your ears. We also hear with our other senses like eyes help us to judge the personality of a person.


    Focus on the tone, volume, and speed:  


    All of these points help us recognize the state of mind of the speaker.


    What is the best way to improve oral and listening to English?


    Here are a few ways that can help you to improve your spoken and listening English:


    Start thinking in English:


    Sometimes it becomes difficult to talk in a new language, so how can one think about it?  Try to translate all that has is being said to you. Although translating is not an easy thing to do even for people who are fluent in more than two languages, so take small steps.


    Use a mirror:


    Take about 5 minutes out of your schedule and stand in front of a mirror. Choose a topic of your choice and start talking in front of the mirror. This technique will help you to build confidence.


    Focus on the fluency:


    When you have just started to speak in English try to focus more on the fluency rather than on focusing on grammar. As the more you stop the less confidence you are going to have, so make sure you concentrate on speaking fluently than correctly.


    Listen and repeat:


    This is one of the best methods to improve oral and listening skills, try to watch television shows or YouTube videos in English. Now select a small part of the video and repeat it. Try to match your tone, accent, and the speed as much as you can. Try to sound like the native speakers of the show.


    How to improve my listening skills? 


    When it comes to improving listening skills, it is suggested to use both audio and text transcript. The main reason to do this is to check the comprehension when you are listening to something new. In general, it is better to listen without the text first. Here are a few ideas that you can try practicing with:


    1. Watch a movie or a tv show with subtitles
    2. Listen to a podcast that you have a transcript for.
    3. A book that you have in print and the audiobook format as well.
    4. Dialogues and their transcripts
    5. A video on some news channel or news site.


    Active listening examples: 


     It is usually easier to learn through examples, here are a few examples of active listening skills;


    1. Demonstrating concerns: “ I am eager to help you out”
    2. Brief verbal affirmation: " Thank You, I appreciate your concern"
    3. Asking questions that are specific: “What is the company’s turnover rate?”
    4. Waiting to show your opinion: “ Tell me more about the company”
    5. Disclosing situations that are similar:  “ I was also confused about what had been happening?”


    Why is active listening important? 


    Strong and effective listening skills are important in every career one takes. To become an effective communicator one has to work for it throughout life and it is a dynamic process. Active listening helps to build a strong relationship and while it might not come naturally to a lot of us, it is indeed an invaluable communication skill. When one becomes an active listener it is going to have many advantages in personal and professional life. It is going to improve your focus and understanding. It is also going to develop a curious mind and a desire for continuous growth.


      Active listening exercise:  


      Active listening is practicing a completely focused way of listening with a series of exercises designed to keep your mind from getting distracted. Here are the examples of active listening technique:


      • Reflecting Listening: You are supposed to understand what has been said by repeating the key points again or asking questions that are useful for the conversion
      • Emotional Intelligence:  Thinking about an emotion behind the words
      • Social Intelligence:  This is a broad category of interpretation that includes understanding motivation, social interactions, and humor.
      • Visualizing: Here one has to visualize what the speaker is communicating.
      • Patience:  Here one must allow the speaker to at some length with patience.


        Active listening techniques: 


        Active listening basically means listening to understand rather than replying or answering.There a number of active listening techniques and some of them are as follows:


        Focus when others talk:


        Always give your full attention to people while they are talking. Keep your face towards them and maintain an eye contact. Make sure that both of the people involved in the conversation are facing at the same level. For example, if they are sitting, you should sit. If they are standing, you must stand.


        Keep asking:  


        Ask good questions to the speaker. Keep trying to search for the hidden meanings, while they answer. Just make sure that the tone of your voice has sincerity and you are asking open-ended questions.


        Don’t assume:


        Never assume what other person is going to say or mean on your own. When you keep yourself away from judging what the other person is saying, you are more attentive towards them and listen more actively.


        Repeat:


        Sometimes it is beneficial to repeat what the other person just said but in your own words. This way you are going to check if what you heard was correct. And if you have misunderstood something this is going to give the other person to clarify.


        Understand others perspective:


        While listening to others, try to put yourself in their shoes. Whether you agree or not in a situation or a though always try to accept the other person feelings, ideas and thoughts.


        Importance of listening skills: 


        Listening must never be taken for granted. Here are a few points that are going to showcase the importance of active and competent listening skills:


        It helps to become a better student:  


        When we are being taught in the classroom by the teachers, you must be able to identify not just words used in a lecture but also the emphasis and the meaning. When a person has good listening skills, they are able to take better notes, remember the instructions that are given carefully and understand the information provided in a better way.


        People’s perception changes:


        When you actively listen to what other people have to say. You present yourself as being curious and interested in people and events. In addition to that the ability to understand the meaning of what we hear is also going to make you more knowledgeable and a more thoughtful person in general.


        Help your public speaking skills:


        When you are able to listen to other people well, you initiate to pick up more information regarding how people form arguments and how are they able to put their thoughts forward. As a result of which you will be able to analyze well what really works while speaking and will be able to inculcate those things in your speeches. This is going to improve your public speeches and presentations.


        In conclusion, Active listening takes a lot of time and practice. However, with time when you get used to active listening, everything starts to become easier. So these were a few tips to improve your listening skills. If you follow all the above-mentioned strategies judiciously, within no time you will end up with the listening skills of a pro.

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