Many of us fall into the trap of using the terms ‘listening’ and ‘hearing’ interchangeably, but in many contexts the difference between actively paying attention to the sounds and words being transmitted versus passively allowing sound to enter our ears can be vital. To some, the very act of listening is in itself an artform, but those who neglect to hone the skill in more mundane situations at work or at home run the risk of alienating those around them and potentially missing vital information or emphasis.
If your attention tends to dart between the person speaking and your own phone or computer, or if you find that those you talk with rarely get the chance to make it to the end of their sentence, chances are you could be considered a bad listener. Working on your listening skills can be a great way to re-engage with your environment and your peers, and will likely be perceived as an indication of respect to those around you. Switching off or sleep-moding your devices when you get into conversations, biting your tongue while you wait for someone to finish talking, and allowing time to think between speakers, are all good ways to begin – but they require strength of will and humility.
You may be guiltily aware that you’re a bad listener and looking for advice, in which case be sure to check out this new infographic with further ideas on how to improve those listening skills. On the other hand, we all know bad listeners who seem blissfully ignorant of the fact they’re talking over you, so it doesn’t hurt to reflect on your own listening skills independently from time to time… just in case. The infographic also includes a diagnostic flowchart for just that purpose. Remember, if you’re busy and can’t give someone the attention they deserve, it can be more productive to be honest and postpone the chat than to half-listen while you complete your task.
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Edberg, H. How to become a better listener: 10 simple steps. positivityblog.com
Gold, S. 2015. How to be a better listener? scientificamerican.com
Mindtools. How good are your listening skills? mindtools.com
Markman, A. 2015. How one simple change can make you a better listener. fastcompany.com
Psychalive. Quiz – Are you a good listener? psychalive.org
Griffiths, P. (2015). Listening with Cage. listenmusicmag.com
Designed Learning (2016). Humility Helps Leaders Listen. Designedlearning.com
Bing, S. (2007). My boss doesn’t listen. Stanleybing.com
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