UNAVOIDABLE COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Being able to communicate effectively is perhaps the most important of all life skills. It is what enables us to pass information to other people, and to understand what is said to us. You only have to watch a baby listening intently to its mother and trying to repeat the sounds that she makes to understand how fundamental is the urge to communicate.
Communication, at its simplest, is the act of transferring information from one place to another. It may be vocally (using voice), written (using printed or digital media such as books, magazines, websites or emails), visually (using logos, maps, charts or graphs) or non-verbally (using body language, gestures and the tone and pitch of voice). In practice, it is often a combination of several of these.
Communication skills may take a lifetime to master — if indeed anyone can ever claim to have mastered them. There are, however, many things that you can do fairly easily to improve your communication skills and ensure that you are able to transmit and receive information effectively.
ACTIVE LISTENING SKILL
Active listening is a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice. However, active listening can be difficult to master and will, therefore, take time and patience to develop.
‘Active listening‘ means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker.
Active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening — otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.
Interest can be conveyed to the speaker by using both verbal and non-verbal messages such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling, agreeing by saying ‘Yes’ or simply ‘Mmm hmm’ to encourage them to continue. By providing this ‘feedback’ the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily, openly and honestly.
Listening is the most fundamental component of interpersonal communication skills.
Listening is not something that just happens (that is hearing), listening is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen to and understand the messages of the speaker.
Listeners should remain neutral and non-judgmental, this means trying not to take sides or form opinions, especially early in the conversation. Active listening is also about patience — pauses and short periods of silence should be accepted.
Listeners should not be tempted to jump in with questions or comments every time there are a few seconds of silence. Active listening involves giving the other person time to explore their thoughts and feelings, they should, therefore, be given adequate time for that.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LISTENING?
Listening for Purpose. When you listen for a speaker’s purpose, think, ‘Why is this person talking?’ For example, in a class lecture, the teacher’s purpose is to inform the students about a particular topic.
4 LISTENING STYLES COMMUNICATORS SHOULD KNOW
It’s one thing to hear a customer, but quite another to understand what he’s really trying to tell you. These listening styles can help you
In all relationships, communicating is not so much about what you say, but what your listeners hear.
Since social media and digital marketing are a never-ending circle of talking and listening, it helps if you know what listening really is.
I hear you!
“I hear you” is a common phrase, but listening is different from hearing.
Hearing involves sound waves, eardrums, the cochlea and thousands of tiny hair cells that turn vibrations into electrical signals. These signals tell the brain you are hearing a noise, and identify what the noise is.
Yes, it’s complicated (thank you, evolution), but if you’ve been in a relationship or two, you know listening is even harder.
We often say one thing when we mean another. Maybe we’re shy, don’t like confrontation, or are just really passive aggressive. But when we say one thing and mean another, our bodies give us away: We fidget, sweat, inflect our voices or avoid eye contact.
That is all well and good when you’re face to face with someone (or a trained detective), but when you comment on a blog or interact on social media, others don’t have the luxury of seeing those physical tics.
Look at it this way: Hearing is the practical, and listening is the strategy. And as with most things strategic, there’s more than one way to listen.
As a communicator, you should know which type of listening to use in every situation, as well as how to use those skills to your advantage. Here are four (of many) types of listening:
- Appreciative listening
Appreciative listening is exactly what the name implies — listening to enjoy the story, music or information you hear.
The American Society for Training and Development recommends that, to truly embark in appreciative listening, you should avoid engaging in other communications and focus solely on the sounds or words.
So, when someone is speaking to you, put your phone down!
- Critical listening
Critical listening involves hearing what someone says, identifying key points and/or arguments and solidifying your opinion. Think of a debate, or how you feel when you listen to a politician speak.
When you engage in critical listening, your goal is to analyze what the speaker is saying and determine his agenda.
- Relationship listening
Relationship listening is one of the most important skills to have when dealing with people. Relationship listening is also known as therapeutic or empathetic listening.
You would use relationship listening to help a friend through a problem, solve a conflict between co-workers or prompt people to open up through support and honesty.
- Discriminative listening
Discriminative listening is when you look past the words you hear to detect the underlying message. It might be one of the most important types of listening for online marketers.
This works best in person, as you can look to body language, tone changes and volume to determine what the speaker really thinks and feels.
However, these days we’re not often face-to-face with clients or customers. We need to adapt to become better online discriminative listeners as we engage more and more via texts, Facebook comments and snappy tweets.
Understanding the difference between hearing and listening is a vital skill, whether you deal with people in the boardroom or through comments on your brand’s blog.
BY OLAYINKA EMMANUEL DADA