The Most Ignored Art – The Art of Listening
“Most people listen without hearing,” Leonardo Da Vinci. Listening is the most important language skill. When a child is conceived in his mother’s womb he starts listening then and there only. Whatever he listens inside, it shapes his personality after the birth. In the beginning itself, he starts listening individual sound without associating them to meanings. When he enters in this world he starts participating in face to face conversation and responding in single syllable words. After attentive listening he begins to utter multi-syllable words. Gradually when he matures he is able to understand the contextual meanings of oral symbols.
In the era of information technology, there is bombardment of information around us. Information is all-pervasive and this excessive information leads to reduction in concentration span. As the information is so readily available that we hardly listen, either we listen to refute or support but not to understand. Most of the people don’t understand that art of speech also improves when we listen attentively. Experience of our day to day activities adds to our background knowledge to infer the latent meaning of conversation. One who develops art of listening begins to understand the tone and attitude along with non-verbal communication. As a result of serious kind of listening one can listen to what others feel as well as what they say. Listening increases the power of reasoning and logic and interprets various situations. One who listens properly can articulate his ideas properly.
Listening is an active interpretation that shapes our realities, and it’s the answer to improving our productivity that leads to success in our lives. Various communication research studies have found out that we spent our 50-80% of conscious time in communicating. Half of that requires listening as communication is a two-way process. Your brain can think at between 4 and 10 times the speed of speech. This means that when you are listening, you have lots of spare time to use your extra ‘brain time.
People who have poor art of listening pretend to pay attention while they are not. They try to do other things while listening. When not listened properly they find trainings and seminars uninteresting. So they get distracted by the speaker’s way of speech, or other mannerisms. They concentrate on distractions instead of what is being said at times over listening also creates problems like getting over-involved and thus losing the main thread of the arguments or thoughts. They over react in emotion-filled situations which may arouse personal anger and antagonism. At times people listen to collect facts only. As a result they avoid anything that is complex or difficult.
Listening is learnt first and used most, but taught least. During foundation years of our training and teaching to young ones we hardly focus on this important skill. It is not a passive activity but an important ingredient of effective communication. Listening well is the vital ingredient in a successful, productive and interesting conversation. To improve listening habits one must be aware that daily work out helps in increase in efficiency in listening. Try to isolate only those sounds you want to hear; you will become adept at filtering out unwanted noise. Remember that you have two ears and one mouth – not the other way around. The wiser the person the less he speaks and the more he listens.
Dr. Kiran Bala
Dept. of Communication Studies