SUMMER BREAK EDITION
(Originally posted October 2014)
For the most part, people are good listeners; however, many do not use their listening skills effectively. In his book Management Communication, Donald Baack (2012) postulates that the following three different styles of listening affect how a message is received and transmitted: (a) empathetic, (b) active, and (c) content listening. Active listeners listen with a reason, while empathetic listeners, for instance, combine active listening with critical thinking skills to comprehend a message while having compassion towards the messenger’s needs, wants, and feelings. Content listening on the other hand, is when the receiver makes an attempt to comprehend and retain in memory, the data presented by the transmitter (Baack, 2012). When individuals are able to identify the kind of listening they need to engage in for every situation, it will help enhance their communication skills.
A level one listener, for instance, is the most engaged and authentic listener. A level two listener in the meantime, is less engaged and tends to miss important components like nonverbal cues. Finally, level three listeners are those who are too preoccupied with self-concerns. This can prevent them from engaging as an active listener or receiving the message clearly.
In the eBook, Breaching Communication Barriers, (2013) my research work revealed how effective active listening skills can play a significant role in the communication process. For example, when we are in the work place, we learn the importance of engaging in clear communication strategies because a message transmitted improperly can have dire consequences; and in a worst case scenario, that can result in an employee’s termination. To help employees, some leaders offer staff members communication workshops. Others develop programs that include activities to strengthen communication skills. Then there are companies that choose to distribute educational material to help improve and remind employees about the significance of good listening skills for clear communication, as well as how effective communication skills can help them achieve higher performance levels. In short, good listening skills provide clarification in receiving messages which is effective for breaching communication barriers.
For an employee of a team of twenty people, for example, in addition to engaging in active listening, that staff member may also have to learn how to communicate effectively with different components like ethnicity, cultures, and other diversities. They may also need to understand how to be sympathetic and understanding under different circumstances like when shaking someone’s hand can transmit a message of disrespect to a dignitary when bowing is the accepted traditional custom. One tactic may be to ask for clarification before delivering a message, or repeating a sentence from the conversation. This can be done to clarify the individual was engaged in active listening and enthusiastic to confirm that the transmission was received as it was meant to be delivered. In conclusion, to achieve the best outcomes in the communication process, individuals must also apply skills like active listening. The key to ongoing success however, is an awareness that the enhancement of communication skills is an ongoing learning experience that continues to evolve because of advancements in technology that provide new methods of transmitting those messages.
That’s a wrap for this week’s summer break edition. Until next time … stay organized!
“If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.” — Turkish Proverb
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Baack, D. (2012). Management Communication. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Berry, M. A. (2013). Breaching Communication Barriers (Vol. 2). (C. Angela, Ed.) USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.