Listening styles

Reflect on your own listening style/styles. What has worked well and what could be improved upon?
Describe a time when your listening style proved effective, or ineffective


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As early as 325 BC, Aristotle had begun to understand the extent to which listening differed from one listener to another. For him, listening was about his public speaking where he classified those in his audience as those focused on him as an individual and his opinion about things, those who listened to know what he wanted, those who focused on the message and those who were all about time and could not wait for him to finish. Many years later and Aristotle’s ideas still stand today, where we all listen with different and varying intentions. Some make us fathom what is being said effectively, while some derail the entire process of communication because listening is the most basic aspect of communication. In many cases, listening does not have to be about words but also about body language. People communicate without speaking all the time without knowing it themselves and it up to good listeners to observe and take note of such moments and information.

Reflecting on my listening skills, listening has six major components, attention, avoiding judgement, reflecting, clarifying, summarising and sharing. Being a student, most of my listening apart from social conversations is in the classroom where I have to listen, understand and apply the knowledge imparted by tutors and lecturers. Paying attention is key to understanding anything said in class whether online or in person. For me and most people I assume, attention does not always come so freely and you constantly have to remind yourself to pay attention after veering off to other things. During my younger years, I loved fidgeting with a pen or pencil in my hands every time the class was in session. I would roll the pen over and over which would occasion tip over and cause a lot of distraction to the rest of the class. Somehow, I remember being very attentive to what the teacher was saying while my hands played around with the pen. Being grown up now, such a technic aimed at concentration can hardly be applied without seeming arrogant or annoying.

The next part of the listening process is withholding judgement. For this one, I am a naturally silent person and most times, unless prompted to speak I could let the speaker go on and on. I rare interrupt speakers, not even in a social setting, a character that often makes people think I am easy to talk to. However, going back to the earlier point of paying attention to many occasions, my mind will wander off, especially if the speech is too long and communication will barely have been achieved.

Reflecting is fundamental, especially for a student like me. It is during reflecting that the major aspects of learning are absorbed into the brain foe later application whether in a test or the real world. To reflect, I paraphrase what a speaker says in my mind and my language and in a way I would be able to recall should the information get recalled upon in future. From my evaluation, I think I have a high score on this one since as early stated, I am a silent person making most of the time used by most people talking to be my time to reflect on the things I had heard so far.

In clarification of ambiguous or unclear information, I most definitely score very low. I remember when I was younger my parents would shout a chore for me from the living room while I was in my room. Sometimes, the request was unclear and rather than seeking clarification and getting scolded for always being absent-minded, I would do all the chore I thought would have been mentioned. Sometimes I got it right, sometimes I did not. Eventually, we adopted a new culture of pinning chore requests on the fridge and that problem seemed to have got solved. Now, older and more capable of understanding why it is important to seek clarification, I struggle with stopping a speaker midway and asking for clarification. The more gentle and considerate speakers always leave room to ask for questions but many others just keep going on and on and the idea of seeking clarification becomes unimaginable.

Summarising is vital to any students. It can either be in note form or the mind. This is the process of restating a big pile of information into short and direct key points intended to tighten the grasp on the speaker’s point of view. For me, in class, I prefer to summarise the information in short written notes which include questions I intend to ask once the speaker was done talking. Notes are very important even when it comes to revisiting the information later for remembrance or preparation of a test.

Then lastly is the part where the listener becomes the speaker and roles are reversed. Sharing is fundamental to any communication setting, it allows for a comprehensive view of each other’s perspectives and ideologies. Sharing also improves understanding of the contents of the conversation. However, for a student like me, moments, where I am required to share, are very few and happens on papers like this one where I reflect on my understanding of the concepts of a class.

From this personal analysis, it is clear that while some parts of my listening skills are appropriate and have proven to be effective, others need serious improvement. From the six classifications, I excel at paying attention, withholding judgement, reflecting and summarizing while I need serious improvement in clarification and sharing. Listening skills are very important and vital for effective communication, which is a process we all have to go through both in professional and social lives.

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