To organize effective communication, it is not enough to hear – it is necessary to listen to people. Developing listening skills is essential to understand one’s interlocutor, to remember previous mistakes, and to avoid them in the future. Without a doubt, listening is one of the crucial skills for those who want to communicate productively.
People may have various strategies and approaches to listening (Downs, 2008). However, the traits making up a good listener are generally the same. A good listener is attentive and polite, does not get distracted or interruptive, and knows how to support the conversation.
The most important trait of a good listener is creating a proper atmosphere. Not all offices are suitable for the listening process. It is necessary to organize a place where the conversation will be held (McIntosh, Luecke, & Davis, 2008). After that, one should get rid of any internal obstacles. Another feature of a good listener is the ability to show interest in what the other person is saying (McIntosh et al., 2008). To do this, it is necessary to keep eye contact, use suitable gestures and mimics, select a proper body position, and avoid taking too many notes.
Being able to paraphrase the speaker’s words is also necessary to become a good listener (McIntosh et al., 2008). Paraphrasing shows the speaker that the listener is attentive and gives a chance to clarify anything that one does not understand. One more important feature of a listener is the talent to ask clarifying questions (McIntosh et al., 2008). Such questions help to concentrate on particular issues the listener wants to make clear.
In my practice, I am trying to employ all of these traits. However, I should work more on my ability to show interest in another person’s speech. At the current meeting that I have attended, I noticed the need for developing people’s ability to ask clarifying questions.
Being a good listener is not an easy task. But it is crucial for effective communication. One should be polite and attentive, able to arrange a suitable place for a conversation, and have the ability to paraphrase and ask clarifying questions. When a person cultivates these traits, he/she will become a good listener.
Downs, L. J. (2008). Listening skills training. Danvers, MA: ASTD Press.
McIntosh, P., Luecke, R., & Davis, J. H. (2008). Developing listening skills. In P. McIntosh, R. Luecke, & J. H. Davis (Eds.), Interpersonal communication skills in the workplace (pp. 87-95). New York, NY: American Management Association.