Effective Listening: Advantages, Types and Benefits
In this age of information, there is a lot of emphasis on building good communication skills. These are a part of 21st-century skills, and are equally sought-after across all stages of life. Most of us confuse speaking skills as the most essential part of one’s communication. But at the same time, we tend to ignore another important type of skill, i.e. effective listening skills.
Do you know that being a good listener has a positive impact on varied aspects of life?
Yes! people who know how to listen patiently, are more successful in relationships. They are empathetic towards others. And even tend to collaborate better at the workplace.
In short, effective listening skills are an imperative aspect of a well-rounded personality. And for this reason, top traditional and online schools focus on developing this key 21st-century skill in students from the initial stages of formal education.
Let’s delve deeper and explore more about this important yet underestimated skill!
What are the Advantages of Effective Listening?
- Improves the quality of your interactions-
When you are focused, your understanding automatically improves. This helps your mind to interpret information better. And eventually, you are likely to derive meaningful conclusions. All in all, you can contribute to the discussion more productively.
Effective listening in communication also makes an individual more reliable. If you are a good listener, people will trust you for paying attention and understanding in the first go. This will improve the quality of your social relationships. Because you will come out as a genuine person.
- Promotes empathy-
Mastering this skill also promotes empathy as you can imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes easily. This gives you a good perspective to assess the other person’s situation. And also makes you more compassionate as an individual.
- Reduces ambiguity-
Another great advantage of this quality is that it reduces the chances of conflicts due to ambiguity. It improves one’s understanding and gives more clarity in terms of understanding the information.
- You gain knowledge-
Effective listening skills are also a wonderful source to build knowledge through interpersonal interactions. If you know how to listen patiently, you can gain a lot of knowledge from the information shared by others.
Now that we have discussed some general advantages of this skill, let’s understand some aspects that hinder our listening abilities.
Barriers to Effective Listening
An interesting research proves that our human mind has an inherent weakness in remembering sounds. However, we have a superior visual memory in comparison with other living beings. At this age and date, our primate brain capacity and the inability to pay attention has largely reduced our listening abilities.
With too many handheld devices and gadgets, the problems of attention are quite serious for many of us. Our minds are constantly overloaded with the flow of communication. And this flood of information has tarnished our capacity to stay focused on a single task.
It is already proven that the human attention span has reduced considerably. In fact, we are even worse than a goldfish that can hold its attention for only up to 9 seconds. Constant distractions, physical barriers (lighting, noise, temperature, comfort, etc.), cognitive, or personal factors like stress, injury, temperature, etc. are some more common barriers to active listening skills.
By far, we have explored some aspects of these skills, and the hindrances that affect these. Moving on, we will discuss more about why active listening is important and some more benefits of possessing these qualities.
Benefits of Effective Listening in this Digital Age
In this digital age, effective listening in communication is all the more important. Because a lot of communication happens virtually. And without good listening abilities, one cannot succeed in making the right sense out of any discussion/conversation (both virtually or in-person). In other words, effective listening has the advantage of understanding the communication including emotions.
Let me elaborate further through some eye-opening facts:
- Our communication includes both verbal and non-verbal aspects.
- The non-verbal aspects reveal underlying feelings, emotions, and motives more than the verbal aspects.
Being a good listener makes it possible for an individual to validate all these aspects and gauge the exact motives behind one’s conversation. This is an excellent way of identifying lies, and misquoted information. And even to understand the hidden clues of one’s body language.
For teachers in an online school, this quality helps a lot to understand how much a student must have grasped. And even for students, it adds more value to their learning and comprehension of content.
There are other notable advantages of possessing these competencies for students, let’s decode further!
Why are listening skills important for Students?
This youth population (with an average age of 29 years) is indeed the most valuable asset for country. But they need employability skills to be active members of a productive workforce. For students, employability prospects and skills building are closely related. And active listening is not just a part of one’s communication skills. In fact, it is a valuable transferable skill that helps them to succeed in the workforce.
Skills are imperative for workplace success. And these are a vital prerequisite for students across the world. Skill shortage is a growing problem for employers across the world. The chart below shows the top countries with the greatest skill shortages:
|Global Skill Shortage (Country wise)|
|Country||% of skill shortage|
According to the ‘National Council of Applied Economic Research’, active listening is a basic cognitive and transferable skill. It is also identified as an important part of a student’s social and behavioral skills that are portable across jobs and sectors. It is evident that this ability makes one employable. In fact, it also helps them at each step (selection, collaboration and independent working, etc.) in the workforce.
What are the Characteristics of Effective Listening?
Most strategies for effective listening aim at honing these skills. And one can identify the level of these abilities in an individual through the below-mentioned characteristics:
- Concentrating on the conversation
- Accepting viewpoints
- Responding appropriately
- Non-verbal clues and right body language
Types of Listening and Common Traits of a Good Listener
Some common types of listening are as follows:
- Discriminative– Distinguishing between sounds
- Comprehension – Attempting to comprehend the information
- Evaluative – Judging the speaker’s content/words
- Appreciative – Paying attention selectively to understand relevant information
- Empathetic – Empathizing with the other person who speaks
An individual with these abilities has some identifiable traits. They are mostly non-judgmental, non-evaluative, and totally focused. They demonstrate effective listening skills through positive body language signs. And are capable of paraphrasing points if it is required.
Hearing and Listening- The Real Difference
To understand why active listening is important, one needs to know the exact difference between the terms hearing and listening. Hearing is when you hear what the other person says without full attention. But your mind might wander elsewhere. In simpler words, hearing is when one is passively involved in an interaction. On the contrary, listening is when one intends to comprehend the information shared by the speaker. Another way of understanding this difference is that hearing requires no effort. But listening is more fruitful and is made up of pure intentions to make sense of the speaker’s words.
Before we move ahead with the ways to develop these abilities, let’s take you through some more astonishing facts.
Do you know that Listening Skills also have Hidden Benefits for Human Brain Health?
We have already discussed that listening abilities deeply affect our relationships and performance (such as in an online school/traditional institution). In fact, if we know how to be good listeners, we can support our near and dear ones to retain their brain’s resilience.
Leading journals have reported that people who have others who can listen to them are more resilient to disease or age-related change. This fact once again reiterates the importance of effective listening in communication. And it also explains the harmful effects of hearing any information without paying much attention.
With all the notable advantages of these abilities, it is clear that both adults and students need to develop these advanced competencies. For this reason, top traditional and online schools make use of strategies for effective listening to develop these skills in students. In the recent past, International agencies like PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) has also acknowledged the importance of these competencies. The agency has declared that speaking and listening skills will be included in their assessment methodology in the coming years.
Before we conclude this write-up, let’s take a quick look at some easy ways to develop these abilities.
Ways to Develop Good Listening Skills
- Say ‘no’ to judgment
- Check your comfort level before the conversation starts
- Get into a habit of using non-verbal clues
- Never interrupt
- Put the gadgets or phones away during conversations
- Reflect and check the understanding once the speaker has completed his part
- Be open to learning and new thought processes
- Make eye-contact
Effective listening skills are no less than a sign of character. And the best part is that it is possible to master this skill. We must remember that the basis of a fruitful conversation is two-way focused communication. So let’s master this portion of communication and get ready to unleash the best version of our personalities!
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What are some general benefits of effective listening in communication?
Effective listening is a quality that helps in building good relationships and makes an individual productive as a professional. It presents an individual as a reliable person. And also strengthens virtues like empathy.
- What are some effective listening techniques?
You must get into the habit of avoiding interruption. Try to speak only when the other person has completed. Stay active and avoid any distractions whatsoever.
- Why active listening is important for students?
Active listening is a much sought-after quality that improves one’s personality and chances of success both in student life and adulthood. Good listening abilities help in understanding better without any ambiguity. And it also helps in better retention of information.