Listening skills is one of the most important factors of successful communication. Non-verbal listening skills, as a part of the whole listening process, have a great influence upon mutual understanding of all subjects of communication. There are several categories of barriers that make truly effective listening difficult. They can be psychological, environmental, physical (i.e., hunger or fatigue) or even speaker barriers where our inability to listen has something to do with the person doing the talking, just consider the psychological side of listening and what stands in the way of us really being in sync with someone we are communicating with. Some psychological barriers include self-absorption, impatience, apathy and the inner voice.
For the exercise I take two examples of effective communication, which can be used as an example for finding methods for proper communication. One example is my communication with a neighbor John in his garage. I came up with a problem of leak of break liquid in my car and needed John, who is experienced in car repair, to help me solve the problem. I stated the problem while John was listening using his non-verbal skills. His face expressed the deep understanding of the problem and from time to time he waved with his hands upon particular places of my car, thus finding the place of leak. The leak appeared to be under the trunk, nearby the main brake mechanism. The whole conversation took around 20 minutes, the problem was identified and solution of changing a part of brake hose evolved, which was performed by John later on. From this communication I experienced several important factors for successful understanding, among them are eye contact and facial expressions, which help to operate within the problem, not somewhere else. Thus John, who I know for several years, understood the situation very quickly and the solution was found.
The second example of effective communication that I want to bring is resent conversation on a bus stop with a man that I first time saw. I wanted his help in explaining me about one particular bus route, which I was not too familiar with. The conversation took about 3 minutes, because the person knew well the bus route and explained it to me quickly. In this situation I was using my non-verbal listening skills, trying to understand the person’s message in full. My gestures were calm and I was just waving with my head, when the information sounds familiar to me. Also I used eye contact well to present my personal interest in the answer. My behavior in the situation was closer to high interest level, because I needed to get to my destination and did not know which bus to use. That appeared to be a problem and my conversation partner helped me with it.
By these two communication cases I learned a great deal of the importance of non-verbal communication skills. First, you must get yourself in the right frame of mind to listen. I can call it my “listening mode” for better understanding. If you go into a conversation or a meeting thinking, “This is going to be so boring. I wish I could get out of here,” you’re in trouble. I find that when I make a decision to listen because I think there might be something said that can be helpful; I inevitably find something of value. If I take the opposite approach, it is as bad as I thought it would be. Concentration is another important aspect of effective communication. Let’s not kid ourselves- this is hard stuff. I’m not talking about simply hearing what is said, but listening. The hardest part is not concentrating on what you are preparing to say in response or in rebuttal to what you think is being said. Because when it is done, important information may be missed. Another key to effective listening is keeping your eyes on the other person. Focused, steady eye contact is vital. Further, it is necessary to how your interest, and keep your arms and hands open and relaxed. When it comes to being a great communicator, listening is often more than half the battle.
Adubato, Steve. Listening Is as Important as Talking. NJBIZ. 11/15/2004, Vol. 17 Issue 46, p. 18.
Clinard, Helen. Listen for the Difference. Training & Development Journal, Oct 85, Vol. 39 Issue 10, p. 39.