Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what (s)he hears. The ability to listen actively can improve personal relationships through reducing conflicts, strengthening cooperation, and fostering understanding. When interacting, people often are not listening attentively. They may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what they are going to say next (the latter case is particularly true in conflict situations or disagreements). Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others, focusing attention on the speaker. Suspending one's own frame of reference, suspending judgment and avoiding other internal mental activities are important to fully attend to the speaker.
There are three primary elements that comprise active listening: comprehending, retaining, and responding. Comprehending
Comprehension is "shared meaning between parties in a communication transaction". This is the first step in the listening process. The first challenge for the listener is accurately identifying speech sounds and understanding and synthesizing these sounds as words. We are constantly bombarded with auditory stimuli, so the listener has to select which of those stimuli are speech sounds and choose to pay attention to the appropriate sounds (attending). The second challenge is being able to discern breaks between discernable words, or speech segmentation. This becomes significantly more difficult with an unfamiliar language because the speech sounds blend together into a continuous cluster. Determining the context and meanings of each word is essential to comprehending a sentence. Retaining
This is the second step in the listening process. Memory is essential to the listening process because the information we retain when involved in the listening process is how we create meaning from words. We depend on our memory to fill in the blanks when we're listening. Because everyone has different memories, the speaker and the listener may attach different meanings to the same statement. However, our memories are fallible and we can't remember everything that we've ever listened to. There are many reasons why we forget some information that we've received. The first is cramming. When you cram there is a lot of information entered into your short term memory. Shortly after cramming, when you don't need the information anymore, it is purged from your brain before it can be transferred into your long term memory. The second reason is that you aren't paying attention when you receive the information. Alternatively, when you receive the information you may not attach importance to it, so it loses its meaning. A fourth reason is at the time the information was received you lacked motivation to listen carefully to better remember it. Using information immediately after receiving it enhances information retention and lessens the forgetting curve (the rate at which we no longer retain information in our memory). Retention is lessened when we engage in mindless listening, where little effort is made to listen to a speaker's message. Mindful listening is active listening. Responding
Listening is an interaction between speaker and listener. It adds action to a normally passive process. The speaker looks for verbal and nonverbal responses from the listener to determine if the message is being listened to. Usually the response is nonverbal because if the response is verbal the speaker/listener roles are reversed so the listener becomes the speaker and is no longer listening. Based on the response the speaker should either adjust or continue with his/her communication style.
Listening is considered to be the one of the most important part of the oral communication. The term is used in order to make oral communication effective. Poor listening skills of an individual may affect the individual very...
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