The Difference Between Success & Failure
In business, communication is the difference between success and failure. When on thinks of communicating, it is often from the consideration of speaking or conveying one’s thoughts clearly. In reality communication is more of a process of listening. Actively listening is an extremely important part of communication because it allows one to successfully network with peers and clients.
What is active Listening?
Active listening is a skill and effort in which the listener makes an effort to not just hear what the person is saying but also to understand the message being imparted from the speaker. In so doing, the listener is able to increase his or her critical thinking skills because the listener can better understand the message. By focusing on the message, the listener can develop a deeper understanding which he or she can use after listening to formulate counterpoints or arguments pertaining to the speaker’s subject. Active listening involves making an effort to listen and not formulate counter arguments or becoming bored while the speaker is speaking. One way in which active listening is distinguished from other forms of listening is the fact that active listeners will give feedback such as acknowledging points or understanding of the speaker. This skill takes practice because a person is capable of thinking much faster than another person can speak. Due to this fact, active listening takes practice and effort to accomplish.
Actively listening forms the basis of networking skills. Through the process of active listening one is able to form persuasive thoughts and build credibility with the audience. This happens as a result of not missing portions of the person’s communication which can frustrate a person who is on the other side of the communication process. According to MindTools.com, “research suggests that we remember between 25 percent and 50 percent of what we hear…” (Mind Tools, 2014). That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers or spouse for 10 minutes, they pay attention to less than half of the conversation.” One needs to be an active listener to avoid this pitfall. According to Mind Tools, (2014), There are five steps that one can take to become and active listener:
1. Pay attention- remain focused on the speaker. Maintain eye contact with the speaker. When important points or details are presented, one should make mental notes or paraphrase the concepts in order to retain the information.
2. Show that you’re listening- use body language to show that you are paying attention and have interest, e.g., nod, smile, and other facial expressions.
3. Provide feedback- Ask questions, paraphrase what has been said. One should show an interest in what is being related.
4. Defer Judgment- Because one thinks faster than one speaks it is necessary to put aside criticism and rebuttals. Wait until after the person is done speaking to form an opinion.
5. Respond Appropriately- Be honest but be aware of tone. Tone is an important issue. Tone refers to the manner in which one communicates information. Being too professional or detached from a communication can result in the tone of the communication sound cold or mean. It is important that one responds in a positive manner to the person speaking. A negative tone can immediately turn a potential client or pear away. Tone is an often overlooked aspect of communication both in written and oral communications mediums (Owl Purdue University, 2014).
Active listening skills are necessary for effective communication and networking. If one is trying to get ahead in any field it is necessary to gain support from peers and supervisors. This is the importance of networking, because it provides the human resources needed to accomplish tasks and find solutions to problems. By actively practicing these listening skills, one will begin to notice that she has a more attention and persuasion with an audience. This will have a positive impact on all areas of professional and personal life by allowing people to increase their professional networks.
Mind Tools. (2014, January 25). Active Listening Hear What People are Really Saying. Retrieved from Mind Tools: http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm
Owl Purdue University. (2014, January 25). What is Tone? Retrieved from Owl Purdue University: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/652/01/
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