Active Listening in the Workplace Listening as Conscious Communications
Active Listening as Conscious Communications
Listening is the process of hearing and interpreting a message.
We think we are communicating effectively but in fact this may be partially true.
We spend 80% of our time communicating but most of what we do involves sending messages to others.
Listening is an integral part of the communication process.
A goal for the business communications professional is to develop conscious listening skills.
Conscious Listening Continuum Mindful Listening Mindless Listening Listener becomes open to the speakers point of view. Listener reflects on how what is said applies to his or her life Listener deliberates on what is said, exploring the logic, reason and point of view of the speaker Listener identifies the signals as words. Moves from hearing to listening. Listener processes a signal from the speaker Conscious Listening Self-Reflexive Listening Critical Listening Informational Listening Hearing
Hearing is the passive and physical process of listening.
Hearing is what happens when a message vibrates our eardrum and causes a signal to move to the brain.
We may hear a speakers words but may not understand their meaning.
Hearing may be impacted by outside elements that impact our ability to hear such as noise, physical diversions or technological diversions.
Obstacles that Affect Hearing
Noise – any sound that disrupts or interferes with the delivery of a message
Physical Diversions – any physical element that disrupts or interferes with the delivery of a message
Technological Diversions - any technological element that disrupts or interferes with the delivery of a message
The message begins to be interpreted by the listener.
We assign meaning to the words we hear and listen for information.
Many people communicate at this level where they are caught in a cycle of listening and responding rather than moving to the next level which is critical listening.
At this level our ability to listen may be influenced by internal elements such as cultural, gender and language differences.
Culture Differences in Communications
Cultural differences in communications include:
Slang used by an older or younger generation
Language or tonal accents used by another race or nationality
Regional differences in language style
Jargon used by a certain profession or industry
Gender Differences in Communications
Studies have shown that men communicate to report and women communicate to build rapport.
Men in business typically see communications as a process of delivering a message-a one-sided process intended to impart knowledge
Women communicate to create mutual understanding, they are more receptive to feedback and to the responses of others.
Women are typically considered more empathetic listeners.
Women can become frustrated with men’s inability to listen rather than react
Men get frustrated with lengthy conversations when a short conversation and quick decision can be made
Language Differences and Communication History
Language differences can occur because of new interpretations or meanings to a word or phrase.
The communication history or the cumulative record of conversations with the persons involved can create barriers when:
The speaker views the listener as a passive receptor that is there to absorb whatever the speaker has to say.
The speaker assumes that talking is more important than listening.
Refers to the ability of the listener to deliberate (consider) on what is said by exploring the reason, logic and point of view of the speaker. At this stage we begin to reflect on:
Speaker credibility – personal and professional qualifications of the speaker
Message – data and evidence used by the speaker to support his/her position
Motivation – We determine what is at stake for the speaker or what does he stand to gain
Self-Reflexive Listening -Refers to listening to how what is said applies to the listeners life – this assists in moving beyond the first three stages of the listening process closer toward conscious listening. We listen for an insight regarding:
Identity at work – how will this assist with career advancement
Personal goals –How will this contribute to personal growth
Understanding of an issue or problem – how can this assist in problem-solving or decision-making
Sensitivity to the needs of others – how do differences impact the ability to receive what is being said
Refers to listening openly to the speakers point of view, which emerges out of dialogue.
Occurs when all of the communication partners listen for and reflect on how talk affects the whole group, team or company.
Peter Senge (1994), describes conscious listening as “deeper patterns of meaning that flow through a group… that build a subtle awareness of collective thought that profoundly transforms our experience of what is possible.”
Listening in Business and Professional Contexts
Conscious listening should be a goal for anyone in business. Here are a few exercises to assist with skill-building. Break into groups discuss the following:
Discuss how you would work in a group with a non-native speaker
List strategies for overcoming gender barriers to communications.
Discuss strategies for overcoming a negative communication history with a colleague.
Identify at least four strategies for conscious listening
Identify several strategies for listening during a conflict and with chronic complainers.