Listening….the Key Communication Skill

January 6, 2012 by  

The cause of most conflict is Poor Listening.
Most of us think that because we have essentially been communicating since we were born that we know how.
Good luck with that!

Without actual feedback from the listener, we have no idea what they actually heard because there are many interferences between the delivery and the reception of the message. That is why most of us are not very effective communicators.

Here are some of the interferences:
1. Our brains process data at approximately 800-1000 words/minute. Most people talk at about 150 words/minute. No wonder staying focused on a speaker is difficult for our brains. Ever find yourself realizing that you haven’t heard a word the person you are supposedly listening to has said for the past 5 or 10 minutes? And then done the usual human thing… assumed you sort of knew what they are saying, which of course gets us into a whole pile of trouble!!
2. The condition of the listener can also impact upon the reception of the message…they could be hungry, tired, not feeling well, or worrying about something.  Which means they may not be concentrating on what you are saying.
3. The environment can negatively impact the reception…too hot, too cold, poor lighting, outside distractions (noise), inside distractions, or interruptions.  Again this can prevent the intended message from being received as it again interferes with concentration.
4. Language….be sure to use words that the listener understands, not technical language that they may not be familar with.  Because in order to not look or feel stupid, they will say they understood you even if they did not.
5. Preconceived ideas about what is going to be said or happen can interfere with the intended message being received as well.  Again feedback is the only way we can have any idea of what the listener heard.

Checking to find out what the listener actually heard can be most enlightening and helpful to ensure that the message you intended was truly what was computed.

Remember this: the verbal part of the message is only 7%, it is 38% tonal and 55% nonverbal, so in all it is 93% nonverbal….be careful of the messages you are sending, they may not be what you intended. Without direct feedback we can never be sure what the listener actually heard, so practise active listening and reduce the conflict in your life!!

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