As human beings, we use our senses to learn what is going on in the world around us. In ancient times, a person’s survival depended upon being able to hear and see many dangers in the environment. Our other senses of taste, touch, and smell also helped people survive. Many people think that sight is the most important sense. Early humans would have run into terrible danger without their sense of sight. Even today, it is hard for anyone to imagine how they could survive without their sense of sight. However, with the days of hunting and gathering a time of the past, today’s survival skills are very different. Today, communication is one of man’s most important skills, and communication depends on the sense of hearing. Even when we are communicating by visual means, such as writing or typing, we are still using the language that most of us first learned by hearing before we were even out of the womb.
Hearing can be defined as the ability which helps in the perception of sound through vibrations that are being detected by the ear. This is a biological or physical process. Listening, though it may seem similar to hearing, is however, different in that it entails perceiving and understanding the message that was heard. Listening involves the use of a person’s sense of sight and hearing. Effective listening, therefore, involves the process by which a person understands, interprets, and analyzes the information received through hearing. It is an active process that is learned through time. Active listening skills are not only useful in understanding verbal speech, but also enable a person to derive a conclusion from the speaker’s body language. The ability to listen is essential for success in all relationships. Effective listening skills involve a person paying full attention to the speaker, and having the ability to ignore all eternal distractions.
The inability to give your full, undivided attention to the speaker can be disrespectful and may send the message that what the speaker has to say is not important. One poor listening habit that really offends me is when the listener frequently interrupts while I am speaking, and they go on to share their own story. In my opinion, the listener must have a lot of internal noise or psychological garbage that is distracting them from my message. They may start out attending well, but their own internal noise gets in the way, and they stop listening to what I am really saying. To be an effective listener, you must be able to clear your mind of your personal thoughts, and listen intently without bias or judgment. Wait patiently until the speaker is done to interject with your own thoughts or ideas. The text states that Noise: comprised of external, internal, and semantic, are all definite barriers to effective listening.
One particular exercise, the listening skills survey, allowed me pinpoint my particular strengths and weaknesses in the communication process. I invited three of my peers to an IEP meeting that involved the teachers and therapists of my son’s special needs classroom. The purpose of this meeting was to access my son’s progress, and set up appropriate goals for the following year. My peers were instructed to observe my listening skills, and fill out a survey of my strengths and weaknesses. My greatest strength as an effective listener was my ability to give the speaker my undivided attention and I always looked the speaker in the eye. I also was observed to patiently wait until the speaker was done speaking, and then I paraphrased what was said in order to ensure I understood the message intended. Not only does paraphrasing illustrate that I was attending well, but it also showed that I wanted to clear up any misunderstandings I may have had in the message. Another strength that I exhibited in my listening skills was I asked a lot of questions to gain a better understanding of the information presented. Some of the behaviors my son exhibits at...
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