Updated June 14, 2023
Introduction to Listening Habits
Listening habits refer to the standard ways an individual engages with auditory information or content. These habits can contain music, podcasts, or audiobooks, the duration and intensity of listening sessions, the types of genres or topics preferred, and the environment while listening. Listening habits can also include other aspects, such as how one approaches and interprets spoken language or sound effects in media. Various factors, such as personal preferences, cultural background, and technological availability, can influence these habits.
Listening habits are one of the most important skills to master in this age of distraction. But it’s one of the underrated tools to improve our communication skills. Why so? Because we don’t give much value to effective listening skills as we give to speaking or, you can say, our linguistic ability.
What if we start to pay more attention to our listening habits?
Here’s what will happen:
- Improve our relationships.
- Negotiate better.
- Close more sales.
- Get the promotion faster than we can ever imagine.
- Grow exponentially.
- Become extraordinary in whatever we want to learn.
You may not have thought so much. But truly, if you learn to listen as a skill, it has the power to transform your life completely. In this article, we will show you how.
Listening Habits as a Major Part of Communication
Before we present any suggestions for improving listening habits, you need to know why you should enhance your listening.
There are two major reasons.
- People who think that linguistics is everything in listening need to know that listening qualities are 60% of our communication. It’s not just a number: Barker and team researched it in 1980. So, if you are a leader in your organization (which you are, even if you’re not holding any important position), it’s important that you pay heed to listening habits much more than ever before. Why? Do you know what the average attention span of a human being is now? 8 seconds! So, if you don’t improve your attention to what people speak about, your chances of success are bleak.
- Even if you listen quite well, do you know how much we retain after hearing anything? Just 25%. The result is from the research in the year 1954. Now let’s calculate. Let’s imagine that the speaker’s whole talk is 100%. As per the research done by Barker et al., we listen to only 60%. So, let’s say we listen to 60% of what is said to us. As 25% of whatever we hear, the percentage we retain in our mind is only (60%*25%) 15%. Now that you are attending a meeting with a big client, which is very important for the company, and you’re the key-account manager, if you retain 15% of whatever you have listened to, how would you crack the deal?
Obstacles To Listening Habits
There are many obstacles to listening habits. As sound expert, Julian Treasure mentioned – “We are losing our listening habits”. Few things hinder us from our listening habits. We will give you a brief idea about them.
Julian Treasure is offering the following list.
Culture is a major hindrance. However, companies are paying more attention to the need for people from varied cultures and sponsoring sensitivity training programs for synthesizing the differences.
This hindrance is mostly because of the need for more language understanding. People who understand listen better than people who don’t understand.
Listening attentively is a way to concentrate on the speaker’s words. People don’t feel the need to focus if values differ. People with different values shut them off when they try to listen to someone with different values.
This is as same as values. People, who think differently than the speaker, don’t pay heed to the speaker.
It’s quite subtle, but attitude plays a major role.
When people listen to someone, they have a set of expectations. When those expectations are unaccomplished, they shut off their mind from listening attentively.
This is very powerful. Suppose you want to work on an obstacle for maximum improvement in listening strategies. We need to set powerful intentions for listening attentively. Wrong or weak intentions will always fail you from succeeding.
How to Improve Listening Habits?
Sound expert Julian Treasure offers five ways to improve your listening habits drastically. These ways seem very basic, but they work if you decide to work on them.
Improving your listening qualities needs work; you cannot improve it until you take daily time to work on this skill.
Be patient, take time, and practice regularly. You can listen well and improve everything from relationships to negotiation.
Way #1: Practicing Silence
This is the most important factor that can drastically enhance listening habits. But in this noisy world, it’s very difficult to find silence. Thus, in the beginning, start small. Start with one minute of silence a day.
For example, if you start to practice silence for one minute every day and after a few weeks, you feel comfortable with it, you can increase it to 3-5 minutes and gradually increase from there. For many of us, practicing silence seems difficult. You can be quiet anywhere. Sit on your chair and try not to say anything for a few minutes.
If you can do this, you will be able to increase your concentration, and listening habits will become much easier for you.
Way #2: Mixer
This is a wonderful exercise. But it is challenging to do. You need to practice a few times to get that. Julian Treasure calls this a “mixer.” Whenever you are in a noisy place, try to listen to how many layers of sound you’re listening to. For example, suppose you’re sitting on the bank of a lake. The birds are chirping, the breeze is blowing, and the river is flowing. Concentrate on the sound. Can you listen to them one by one?
Have you ever pronounced a sentence with a different emphasis on different words at a different time? Utter this line – “She speaks to him about the revenue growth of the company.”
Emphasize on she, speaks, him, revenue growth, and company. You need to say this sentence several times by emphasizing different words. Each time you listen to it, you will see they will mean something else by changing the emphasis. You must listen to the bird, the breeze, and the river flowing. Concentrate on each one at a time and defocus the other two. With practice, you will habituate your ear to listen as closely as you want, and thus you will become a terrific listener.
Way #3: Savor
You may have heard this word from mindfulness trainers who encourage people to cherish everything they do, including all mundane tasks that seem boring. Mindful trainers ask people to look into these everyday tasks and find their inherent beauty. The same thing you need to do in the case of listening habits. Try to listen to every mundane sound which you take for granted. For example, there is a slurping sound of drinking tea. Have you ever noticed it? Notice it if you never did. Listen to the sound of the fan swirling above your head. Listen to anything – from washing your hands with water to the burp sound after dinner, from the clapping sound after a speaker connects with the audience to every tapping sound of water dropping from a half-closed tap.
The more you listen, the more you will understand the beauty of it. These listening habits increase concentration, so you stay caught up when listening to a human. While listening to these mundane sounds, pay heed to how they’re sounding; imagine the surface on which they’re making the sound, how it’s affecting the environment; and how you’re feeling due to the sound. If you do this for a long time and get good at this, you don’t need to pay extra attention while listening to someone in your professional arena or while paying heed to someone in your family. Rather you can savor the whole.
Way #4: Listening Habits Position
This is the most important practice of all, as stated by Julian Treasure. He said you need to constantly change listening habits positions to habituate your ears for effective listening.
Here are some examples:
- Active: Listen to something very actively as if your whole concentration is on that thing.
- Passive: Listen to something else, and whatever you were listening to before in your active state, take it to the background.
- Reductive: Listen to a sound. Now try to reduce the length of the sound. Make it smaller. How does it sound now? It’s very hard to do. Indeed, in the beginning, but keep trying. Eventually, reduce the volume or length of the sound while listening.
- Expansive: It is just the opposite of the above. Feel how it sounds. Increase the expansiveness of the sound you’re listening to and hearing.
- Critical: Set your intention to be critical of whatever you’re listening to. Be critical and see for yourself how it sounds. Don’t blurt out a word; it’s for your experiment.
- Empathetic: Set your intention to empathize with whatever you are listening to. Try to be compassionate toward verbal messages, the sound of a cry, or anything.
Way #5: RASA
This is the final way to improve your listening habits. Let’s listen in the most effective way possible by using RASA.
- R: R stands for Receiving. Listen to receive. When listening to a speaker, be a receiver, not a giver. Don’t listen to respond. You must decide to accept to go to the next step.
- A: A stands for Appreciate. While listening to the speaker, make sounds like “hmmm…” or “Ummm…” and the speaker will feel that you appreciate their way of speaking. You don’t need to say anything.
- Summarize: S stands for Summary. Once the speaker finishes speaking, you can say something like “So……” and say whatever you feel like saying. It’s not a situation where you ask the question. You wait for the speaker to agree to your summary and then go to the next step.
- Ask: Ask questions now. Ask a relevant question that makes a speaker cite more examples and pay you enough details about the part of the talk you’re interested in. Make sure the questions you ask shouldn’t be just for the sake of. Don’t pretend. Ask if you have any questions, or skip this step altogether.
This article is a comprehensive guide to making your listening strategies better. You can also drastically improve by using the above five ways. The best way to improve your listening strategies is to pick one idea from above and start practicing it until you are good at it. Once you are good, pick another one and practice it as you did earlier. Do it with all of the ideas. If you try all of the ideas, we promise you that everything from relationships to negotiation and from making more sales to learning better will improve exponentially.
This article has been a guide to Listening habits, one of the most important skills to master in this age of distraction. But it’s one of the underrated tools to improve our communication. These are the following external link related to listening habits –