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The Art of Listening

I tell you everything that is really nothing, and nothing of what is everything, do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying. Charles C. Finn

The speaker is presenting his talk from Constructivist perspective and his own position and values influence his choice of material and the way he present it. It is neither possible nor

desirable to be value-free in such an important

area of human endeavor as education. However, it is up to you, the listener, to engage with the ideas presented from your own values and perspectives.

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?" "It was great, Dad. "Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked. "Oh yeah," said the son. "So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them." The boy's father was speechless. Then his son added, "Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are." Isn't perspective a wonderful thing?

What is Listening?

listening (ILA, 1996): the process of receiving, constructing meaning from, and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages; to hear something with thoughtful attention
Effective communication is 2-way
depends on speaking and listening

Listening - a neglected art

We spend between 50 and 80 percent of our waking life communicating On average, half of that communication time is spent in listening. Despite all this, listening is the poor relation in communication training. Lets see some facts

Facts about Listening

Listening is our primary communication activity. Our listening habits are not the result of training but rater the result of the lack of it. Most individuals are inefficient listeners Inefficient and ineffective listening is extraordinarily costly Good listening can be taught

Facts about Listening

continued Listening: Learned first, Used most (45%), Taught least. Speaking: Learned second, Used next most (30%), Taught next least. Reading: Learned third, Used next least (16%), Taught next most Writing: Learned fourth, Used Least (9%), Taught most.

As seen in table below, listening is learned first and used most, but taught least.
Listening 1st Speaking 2nd Reading 3rd

Most (45%) Next most (35%) Next least (16%)

Least Next least Next most

Writing 4th

Least (9%)


LISTENING AND MEANING In a spoken message, 55% of the meaning is translated non-verbally, 38% is indicated by the tone of

voice, while only 7% is conveyed

by the words used (Mehrabian, 1981).

Spoken words only account for 30 -35% of the meaning. The rest is transmitted through nonverbal communication that only can be detected through visual and auditory listening (Birdwhistell, 1970).


The average person talks at a rate of about 125 175 words per minute, while we can listen at a rate of up to 450 words per minute
(Carver, Johnson, & Friedman, 1970).


On average, viewers who just watched and listened to the evening news could only recall 17.2% of the content when not cued, and the cued group never exceeded 25%
(Stauffer, Frost, & Rybolt, 1983).


Listening is tied to effective

(Bechler & Johnson, 1995; Johnson & Bechler, 1998).

Leaders listen with an open mind by not becoming emotional or

(Orick, 2002).


Students do not have a clear

concept of listening as an active

process that they can control.

Students find it easier to

criticize the speaker as opposed

to the speakers message

(Imhof, 1998).


Physicians interrupt 69% of patient interviews within 18 seconds of the patient beginning to speak. As a result, in 77% of the interviews, the patients true reason for visiting was never elicited (Lee, 2000).

How Important is listening ?

Listening is the most powerful form of acknowledgment

a way of saying, You are important.

Listening builds stronger relationships

creates a desire to cooperate among people because they feel accepted and acknowledged.

Listening creates acceptance and openness

conveys the message that I am not judging you.

Listening leads to learning

openness encourages personal growth and learning

Listening reduces stress and tension

minimizes confusion and misunderstanding, eliminating related stress and tension

Listening is CRITICAL in conflict resolution

much conflict comes from the need to be heard. Successful resolution depends on being a non-anxious presence.

"When you've learned how to Listen, well that's when you've learned everything you need to know in your life!"

-- Glynn David Harris

Listener of the Year

International Listening Association's 1999

The most basic of all human needs is the need

to understand and be understood. The best

way to understand people is to listen to them. Ralph Nichols

"Listening looks easy, but it's not simple. Every head is a world.

-- Cuban Proverb

When you listen to somebody else, whether you like it or not, what

they say becomes part of you.

-- David Bohm

If in all our practices of life we could learn to listen . . . . if we could grasp what the other persons are

saying as they them-selves understand what

they are saying, the major hostilities of life

would disappear for the simplest reason

that misunderstanding would disappear.

Harry Overstreet

Listening means an awareness, an openness to learning something new about another

person. Interrupting, even for clarification, can

seem to be rude, but listening with the intent to learn is an approach to a different type of conversation. Elizabeth Debold

Listening promotes being heard

Seek first to understand, then be understood.

- Stephen Covey

I think I'll learn more from listening. Anything I would say I already know.
Anonymous student explaining while

she did not wish to participate in a discussion,

quoted in Christian Science Monitor

Effective listeners remember that "words have no meaning - people have meaning." The assignment of meaning to a term is an internal process; meaning comes from inside us. And although our

experiences, knowledge and attitudes differ, we

often misinterpret each others messages while under the illusion that a common understanding has been achieved. Larry Barker

What stops us from listening?

Barriers to listening? Bad/poor listening habits? What interferes with listening?

Barriers to Listening
Equate With Hearing Uninteresting Topics Speakers Delivery External Distractions Mentally Preparing Response Finishing the speakers sentences. letting your ego get in the way.
Listening for Facts Personal Concerns Personal Bias Language/Culture Differences Faking Attention Getting tuned out

Bad Listening Habits

Criticizing the subject or the speaker Getting over-stimulated Listening only for facts Not taking notes OR outlining everything Tolerating or creating distraction Letting emotional words block message Wasting time difference between speed of speech and speed of thought

Bad Listening Habits

Pretending to pay attention when you are not Trying to do other things while listening Deciding the subject is uninteresting Getting distracted by the speakers way of speech, or other mannerisms Getting over-involved and thus losing the main thread of the arguments or thoughts Letting emotion-filled words arouse personal anger and antagonism Concentrating on any distractions instead of what is being said Avoiding anything that is complex or difficult

So Far: We covered the facts of listening Importance of listening from different perspective through quotes of great people and proverbs You also know the barriers and bad habits. Having known importance, barriers and bad habits of listening, what are the solutions for all these issues? Be a good listener? How ?

By being active listener/developing effective listening skills

Active Listening
Listening is not a passive activity

It is not the unexciting or unflamboyant part of the conversation

Listening well is the vital ingredient in a successful, productive and interesting conversation

Listening is composed of six distinct components
Hearing: The physiological process of receiving sound and/or other stimuli. Attending: The conscious and unconscious process of focusing attention on external stimuli. Interpreting: The process of decoding the symbols or behavior attended to. Evaluating: The process of deciding the value of the information to the receiver. Remembering: The process of placing the appropriate information into to short-term or long-term storage. Responding: The process of giving feedback to the source and/or other receivers.

Relational Receiving Skills

Non-Listening: A style that is appropriate when the receiver has no need for the
content and has minimal relationship with the sender.

Pseudo listening: A way of "faking it" where the receiver feels obligated to
listen even though they are preoccupied unable or unwilling to at that particular time.

Defensive Listening: A style of listening used in situations where the receiver

feels that he might be taken advantage of if he does not protect himself by listening for information directly relevant to him.

Appreciative Listening: A style that is appropriate in a recreational setting

where the listener is participating as a way of passing time or being entertained.

Listening with Empathy: A style that teaches an individual to enter fully into
the world of the other and truly comprehend their thoughts and feelings.

Therapeutic Cathartic Listening: A listening style used by psychological

counselors to help people who are having problems dealing with life situations.

Therapeutic Diagnostic Listening: A listening style that is used to assess the

needs of the sender.

Content Receiving Skills

Insensitive Listening or Offensive listening: A style where the listeners main intent
is to select information that can later he used against the speaker.

Insulated Listening: A style where the listener avoids responsibility by failing to acknowledge that they have heard the information presented by the speaker.
Selective Listening: A style where the listener only responds to the parts of the message that directly interests him. Bottom Line Listening: A style of listening where the receiver is only concerned about the facts. "Just the facts man." Court Reporter Syndrome: A style of taking in a speakers message and recording it verbatim. Informational Listening: A style that is used when the listener is seeking out specific information. Evaluative Listening: A style used to listen to information upon which a decision has to be made. Critical Incidence Listening: A style used when the consequence of not listening may have dramatic effects.

Intimate Listening: The style that is appropriate when the speaker is communicating significant relational information being completely and wholly honest.

Ten keys to effective listening

Find areas of interest. The Poor Listener: Tunes out dry topics. The Good Listener: Seizes opportunities: "What's in it for me?" Judge content, not delivery. The Poor Listener: Tunes out if delivery is poor. The Good Listener: Judges content, skips over delivery errors. Hold your fire. The Poor Listener: Tends to enter into argument. The Good Listener: Doesn't judge until comprehension is complete. Listen for ideas. The Poor Listener: Listens for facts. The Good Listener: Listens for central theme. Be a flexible note taker. The Poor Listener: Is busy with form, misses content. The Good Listener: Adjusts to topic and organizational pattern.

Ten keys to effective listening

continued Work at listening. The Poor Listener: Shows no energy output, fakes attention The Good Listener: Works hard; exhibits alertness.

Resist distractions. The Poor Listener: Is distracted easily. The Good Listener: Fights or avoids distractions; tolerates bad habits in others; knows how to concentrate. Exercise your mind. The Poor Listener: Resists difficult material; seeks light, recreational material. The Good Listener: Uses heavier material as exercise for the mind.

Keep your mind open. The Poor Listener: Reacts to emotional words. The Good Listener: Interprets emotional words; does not get hung up on them.
Thought is faster than speech; use it. The Poor Listener: Tends to daydream with slow speakers. The Good Listener: Challenges, anticipates, mentally summarizes, weights the evidence, listens between the lines to tone and voice.

The best, easiest and most effective way of showing interest is:

To listen to what they are saying Really listen, Focusing on what they are saying, As opposed to planning our own reposts and anecdotes

We are blessed with two ears and one mouth - a constant reminder that we should listen at least twice as much as we talk.
Unknown Author

Why Be A Good Listener?

To be recognized and remembered To feel valued To feel appreciated To feel respected To feel understood To feel comfortable about a want or need

LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND Before I can walk in another persons shoes, I must remove my own.

Shiva Kumar H.M