How to be an Effective Listener

Chapter 2 of Excellence in Business Communication is provides lots of crucial information about interpersonal communication. I really enjoyed reading the “Developing Your Business Etiquette” section because it discusses lots of great information about how to be professional at work. For instance, the authors discuss how personal appearance, time management, and phone skills are important in any career field. Within this section, the authors also highlight how business etiquette online and in social settings are just as important.

In addition to this, the section on “Improving Your Listening Skills” is extremely important. This particular section caused me to think very critically about my own listening habits and skills. Table 2.3 on page 49 highlights eleven ways to be an effective listener. As I read these tips, I rated myself on how often I do them (e.g. “always,” “frequently,” “occasionally,” or “never”). Rating myself really helped me understand what listening skills I’m good at and which ones I need to improve.

  • Listen actively- frequently
  • Take careful and complete notes- always
  • Make frequent eye contact with the speaker- occasionally
  • Stay focused on the speaker and the content- frequently/occasionally
  • Mentally paraphrase key points to maintain attention level and ensure comprehension- occasionally/never
  • Adjust listening style to situation- frequently
  • Give the speaker nonverbal cues- occasionally
  • Save questions or points of disagreement until an appropriate time- frequently
  • Overlook stylistic differences and focus on the speaker’s message- frequently
  • Make distinctions between main points and supporting details- frequently
  • Look for opportunities to learn­- always

One of these processes that I am already working on is staying focused. Since the school year started, I’ve been very busy. From classes and homework to work-study to meetings, I’ve had a lot to do. I have a Google Calendar and physical planner keep track of the tasks I need to accomplish. However, there are times when I find myself distracted because I’m thinking of all the things I need to do. Therefore, I’m trying to train myself to stay focused.

Another listening process that I need to work on is making eye contact. I’ve always known that I tend to struggle to make eye contact, especially in certain situations. I notice that in-group settings I struggle to make eye contact with the speaker. I’m not sure how this became a habit for me, but I plan to work on making eye contact more out of respect for those I’m talking to or listening to.

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