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Communication Skills: Listening or Hearing?

Communication Skills Training Course Dublin

In business and in life, it is important to know how to listen properly, as when we believe we are being listened to, we trust and respect the person listening to us. If a manager is not truly listening to a colleagues concerns or problems, the impact can be very damaging to the relationship and ultimately to the organization. If a customer is not being listened to, we lose them as a customer, and potentially also lose a lot of their own friends and family as customers; word of mouth is powerful!

Recently I have found myself attempting to explain, to previous and prospective clients, many of the new processes we use in our communication skills training.

Many of our processes at adaptas™ are situational-based tasks, taking the form of pseudo-life scenarios. Some tasks involve observing examples of human behaviour, others require immersion within a situation. All involve ‘doing’ and much self-reflection. Without self-reflection and awareness, no real change can take place in how we feel and behave.

Our processes challenge participants to complete tasks that have been designed to reflect the types of situations we come across every day in our workplaces and lives. Each process focuses in on one specific element of our communication and behavior to allow each participant to explore their level of understanding and ability in that particular area.

One example of a game-based process called ‘Worldwide Whispers’ tests our ability to listen to other people. The game is not the same as, but is definitely inspired by the game ‘Chinese Whispers’, which many of us played as children.

‘Worldwide Whispers’ places participants in a variety of scenarios, where they must listen, and they will win or lose the game based on their ability to listen. The process exposes for each individual their very real level of ability to listen and the changes or improvements they need to make to be more effective as listeners. Rather than thinking and assuming they are good listeners, participants learn very quickly whether they are or are not.

Here are some tips on improving listening skills:

1) Listen to hear the meaning behind what others are saying.
Pay particular attention to nonverbal cues. Emotion expressed nonverbally may be more telling than the words people speak. Focus on tone of voice, pace of speech, facial expressions, and gestures.

2) Be an active listener.
Active listening is a person’s willingness and ability to hear and understand someone else. Active listeners are able to reflect the feelings expressed and summarize what they are hearing. There are several key skills all active listeners share:
-They pay attention to others.
-They hold judgment.
-They reflect by paraphrasing information. They may say something like “What I hear you saying is…”
-They clarify if they don’t understand what was said, like “What are your thoughts on…” or “I don’t quite understand what you are saying, could you repeat that…”
-They summarize, giving a brief restatement on what they just heard.

Also, see a great video on listening skills for leaders:  ‘Why I’m a listener: Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer’

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