Introduction To Listening 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. Why so? Because we don’t give much value to listening attentively 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 –
- We will improve our relationships
- We will negotiate better
- We will close more sales
- We will get the promotion faster than we can ever imagine
- We will grow exponentially
- We will become extraordinary in whatever we want to learn
You may not have guessed so much. But truly if you pay to heed to learn to listen as a skill, it has the power to completely transform your life. In this article, we will show you how.
Hang tight and take good notes. You’re going to learn some great things about listening habits.
Listening Habits as a major part of Communication
Before we ever present to you any suggestions for improving your listening strategies, you need to know why you should improve your listening.
There are two major reasons.
- First of all, people who think that linguistics is everything in listening to communication, need to know that listening qualities is 60% of our communication. It’s not just a number. It’s being researched upon and the results are being shown by Barker and team in the year 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 are speaking about, your chances of success are very bleak.
- Even if you listen quite well, do you know how much we retain after listening strategies? Just 25%. This is also not out-of-the-blue data. It was researched and the result was given by Nicholas & Lewis in the year 1954. Now let’s calculate. Let’s imagine that the speaker’s whole talk is 100%. As per the research was done by Barker et al, we listen only to 60% of what we are exposed to. So, let’s say we listen to 60% of what is being said to us. As 25% of whatever we listen to is being retained, the percentage which we retain in our mind is only (60%*25%) 15% only. Now, guess that you are attending a meeting with a big client and this meeting is very important for the company and you’re the key-account manager; if you just retain 15% of whatever you have listened, how would you clench the deal? Got the idea?
These are two basic reasons for which you need to improve your listening habits by any means and we will show you how in the next section.
There are many obstacles to listening habits. As sound expert Julian Treasure mentioned – “We are losing our listening habits”. There are few things that hinder us from our listening habits. We will give you a brief idea about them.
This list is being offered by Julian Treasure. Let’s look at them one by one.
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 is mostly because of the lack of understanding of the language. People who understand listen better than people who don’t understand.
People who have different values shut them off when they try to listen to someone with a different set of values. Listening attentively is a way to concentrate on what the speaker has to say. If values differ, people don’t feel the need to concentrate at all.
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 not being met, they shut off their mind from listening attentively.
This is very powerful. If you want to work on an obstacle for maximum improvement in your listening strategies, it is this. We need to set powerful intentions for listening attentively. Wrong or weak intentions will always fail you from succeeding.
How to Improve your Listening Habits?
Sound expert, Julian Treasure offers us 5 ways to improve your listening habits drastically. Now, these ways may seem very basic, but they work if you decide to work on them.
Before starting we need to mention that don’t expect any magic bullet or quick fix. Improving your listening qualities needs work and you cannot improve it until you take time every day and work on this skill.
Be patient, take time, and practice regularly. You will be able to listen well and improve everything from relationship to negotiation.
Way #1. Practicing silence
This is the single most important factor which can drastically increase your ability to listen. But in this noisy world, it’s very difficult to be silent. Thus, in the beginning, you need to start small. Start with one minute of silence a day and then as you get confident that you can listening practice more, increase from there. 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. If you can’t practice silence or don’t get the required environment, then you should try being quiet. You can be quiet anywhere. Simply 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 would become much easier for you. If you pay attention you will see that silence is just a different arrangement of the same letters in listen. It’s no wonder that being silent helps you listen more effectively!
Way #2. Mixer
This is a wonderful exercise. But it’s very difficult to do. You need to practice a few times to actually get that. Julian Treasure calls this “mixer.” Whenever you are in a noisy place, just 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 and the breeze is blowing and the river is flowing. Concentrate on the sound. How many layers are you listening to? Can you listen to it one by one? Do it like this. 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.”
You need to say this sentence several times by emphasizing different words. Emphasize on she, speaks, him, revenue growth, and company. Each time listen to it and you will see they will mean something else by just changing the emphasis. You need to listen to the bird, breeze, and 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 would become a terrific listener.
Way #3. Savor
You may have heard this word from mindfulness trainers who encourage people to cherish everything they do. Here everything means all mundane tasks which seem to be boring at best. Mindful trainers ask people to look into these mundane tasks and find the inherent beauty. The same thing you need to do in case of listening. 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 the sound of washing your hands with water to the burp sound after dinner, from clapping sound after a speaker connects with the audience to mere every tapping sound from water dropping from a half-closed tap.
The more you will listen, the more you will understand the beauty of it. All of these listening strategies is done just to increase the concentration so that when you listen to a human, you don’t skip in between, rather you can savor the whole. 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.
Way #4. Listening habits position
This is the most important practice of all as stated by Julian Treasure. He said that you need to be constantly changing listening positions to habituate your ears for effective listening. Here are some of the 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? You would say, it’s very hard to do. Indeed, in the beginning, but keep trying. Eventually, you will be able to reduce the volume or length of the sound while listening.
- Expansive: It is just the opposite of above. Increase the expansiveness of the sound you’re listening and hearing. Feel how it sounds.
- Critical: Set your intention to be critical of whatever you’re listening. Don’t blurt out a word; it’s for your experiment. Be critical and see for yourself how it sounds.
- Empathetic: Set your intention to be empathetic to whatever you are listening right now. Any verbal messages, sound of a cry or anything and try to be compassionate toward it.
Way #5. RASA:
This is the final way to improve your listening qualities. Let’s listen in the most effective way possible by using RASA.
- R: R stands for Receiving. Whenever you’re listening to a speaker, be a receiver, not a giver. Don’t listen to respond. Listen to receive. If you can’t make your mind to receive, you can’t go to the next step.
- A: A stands for Appreciate. You don’t need to say anything. Just while listening to the speaker, do some sounds like “hmmm…” or “Ummm…” and the speaker would feel that you’re appreciating her way of speaking.
- Summarize: Once the speaker is done with her speaking, you can say something like “So……” and say whatever you feel like saying. It’s not a step where you ask the question. You wait for the speaker to agree to your summary and then you go to the next step.
- Ask: Ask questions now. Ask a relevant question that makes a speaker cite more examples and to 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 you’re asking. 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 drastically improve by using the above 5 ways. The best way to start improving your listening strategies is to pick one idea from above and start practicing it until you are pretty good at it. Once you are good, pick another one and practice it again like you did earlier. Do it with all of the ideas. If you literally give all of the ideas a try, we promise you that everything from relationship to negotiation, from making more sales to learning better, all will improve exponentially.
This has been a guide to 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. These are the following external link related to listening habits.