Being aware of the different factors involved in listening will aid in the process of communication.
Listening is an important part of effective communication. We need to concentrate on encouraging
not only students, but ourselves, to exhibit good listening behaviors and strategies.
Listening is a process that involves actively hearing what another person is communicating and
attending to that communication. Listening is how we receive the verbal portion of a person's
message. By listening, we can show concern and interest in understanding both the person and the
situation. Listening can be affected by personal bias, environmental factors, a short attention span,
rehearsing a response, daydreaming, hot words, or through the use of filtering.
Bias can take on many forms. Personal prejudice can affect how well we listen and how we perceivewhat the speaker is saying. Anger can also cause distortion of the message. As good communicators,
personal bias and anger must be put aside in order to interpret the message. Be willing to listen to
new ideas. Make eye contact with the speaker, use nonverbal communication, such as nodding your
head or smiling, to show that you are interested. Even if you do not agree with the speakers
message, showing acceptance will let the speaker know that you have received their message.
Environmental factors, such as noise, temperature and uncomfortable seating can cause us to focus our attention on other factors besides what the speaker is saying. Try to control environmental
factors whenever possible. Try adjusting the thermostat, finding another seat, or moving to a quiet
place to continue the conversation. It is hard to focus attention when we are constantly distracted by
Short attention span. As we receive a message, we must attend to it or we will lose it. Some people have trouble remembering points to discuss when the speaker is talking. Try taking notes as the
speaker talks, or use a cue to help you remember what you were going to say. If you find your
attention wandering, concentrate on what the speaker is saying, and rehearse how you will answer,
or what you are going to say to keep your mind on the task at hand. Ask questions to clarify and to
become involved in the conversation. Concentration helps you receive accurate information and
indicates that you are interested in what the speaker is saying.
Rehearsing a response: Many times we catch the drift of what the speaker is saying and we begin
to rehearse a response, thereby missing parts of the message. Other times we may be anticipating our
turn to speak and will spend time mentally or physically reviewing notes and will miss what the
speaker has said.
Daydreaming: We are capable of receiving and processing information more rapidly than a speaker
can deliver it. This causes us to have spare time to think or daydream, and if we don't concentrate on
the message being delivered, we will find ourselves drifting or daydreaming.
Hot Words: We all have certain words that we react to such as, raise in pay, punishment, or
compensatory days. Sometimes when a speaker uses a hot word in his/her message we will
concentrate more on the meaning of the word, or its implications for us. Consequently, we tend to
lose sight of what is being said by the speaker.
Filtering: Many times we will be asked to attend a seminar where we exhibit little or no interest in
the topic. As listeners, we tend to listen to get an overview of what is going to be presented and then
simply tune out the rest of the message.