Listening is an art one must learn and master

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Listening is an art one must learn and master

Friday, 10 November 2023 | Ravi Chander Kochhar

Listening is an art one must learn and master

Patience is key to effective listening. It demonstrates respect and willingness to hear the other person’s viewpoint

Listening is an art that deserves mastery by everyone. Unfortunately, most of us often engage in conversation without patiently waiting for the other person to finish speaking. We tend to react prematurely, which disrupts the flow of communication. To truly listen, one must patiently hear the Speaker out, allowing them to express themselves fully before responding. This fundamental aspect of communication can make all the difference in our interactions.

Effective listening is the cornerstone of productive communication. It serves as the foundation for building strong and trusting relationships in various aspects of life, including married life, at the workplace, amongst friends and within families and relatives. When someone truly listens to another person until the end, he or she not only understands their perspective but also gains valuable time to consider one's response. This, in turn, makes the conversation more meaningful and productive.

Listening doesn’t just benefit the Speaker; it also enhances understanding of the situation at hand for the listener. Moreover, it adds value to the relationship, boosts trust, and strengthens the bond between the parties involved. This principle holds for all types of relationships, and it can help overcome challenges and take interpersonal connections to greater heights. Effective listening creates a comfortable environment where both parties can express themselves without fear or apprehensions leading to better mutual understanding and further strengthening the relationship.

However, successful listening requires careful attention to certain factors. To be an effective listener, one must avoid distractions and prevent preconceived notions, biases, or emotional reactions to avoid clouding rational judgment. Any of these can hinder effective communication and compromise the ability to listen actively and empathetically.

To maintain an open mind and improve listening skills, one needs to approach situations with a clear state of mind, free from preconceived ideas or emotional biases. It is essential to engage in patient and unbiased listening. With practice, this approach becomes a natural reaction sort of habit and makes one a good listener.

To master the art of listening, consider the following types of listening:

Active Listening: Actively pay attention to the speaker, concentrate on every word being spoken, understand their perspective, and respond thoughtfully. Maintain eye contact, nod, or express understanding without interrupting the speaker. Your body language such as posture and facial expressions convey your attentiveness. Empathetic Listening: Understand not just the words but also the feelings and emotions of the speaker. Respond with empathy by saying, “I can understand why you feel that way”.

Critical Listening: This involves understanding what is said, evaluating, judging, and forming an opinion regarding the information. Ask relevant questions to gain a deeper insight and understanding of the message. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or any clarifications, this shows that you are engaged and you also have a clear understanding of the message.

Appreciative Listening: This listening behaviour is focused on seeking specific information that aligns with one's goals and interests. It aims to derive pleasure and inspiration from what is being said, similar to enjoying the performance of a favourite singer. Practice being present in the moment and avoid drifting thoughts when listening. Here deep breathing can enhance the ability to stay focused.

Patience is a key component of effective listening. Instead of offering advice focus on listening and understanding their feelings and perspectives. Sometimes people simply need someone to listen and validate their feelings.

(The writer is Group Pro Vice Chancellor, Amity University; views are personal)

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