The Art of Listening

The Art of Listening (We hear everyday but do we listen?) by Terence Tan

Communication has always been a key factor of how people, teams and organizations operate. But what are some of the things that we as individuals can do to help create that environment of openness and where we don’t stereotype or judge other?

Here is a consolidation of examples and questions on communication to ponder about, which we can use for our own development as well as for debrief during our programmes, especially for facilitators.

Part 1 – I wonder how well I listen…
1) Do I withhold judgment until I hear the entire story?

2) How many of the important facts do I usually remember?

3) Do I listen from the other person’s point of view?

4) How many questions do I raise to clarify an issue I know vaguely of?

5) What efforts do I make to check out disputed points with other sources?

Part 2 – I wonder why my communications breakdown…
1) Do I close up or open up when a misunderstanding occurs?

2) How often do I resist new ideas because they don’t fit my style or pattern of doing things?

3) Do I talk to people, but ignore their reactions and behaviours?

4) Have I always insisted on having the last word?

5) Do I listen and think before I act?

6) Do I use too many words to present a simple idea?

Part 3 – I wonder how interpersonal conflicts get started…
1) Do I think first before discounting others’ ideas?

2) Have I always commanded rather than invited ideas or actions?

3) Am I interested primarily in self-promotion… or just appear to be?

4) Do I frequently procrastinate when a decision is needed?

5) Do I expect others to read my mind or to understand what I am thinking?

6) Do I tend to make others think I am rubbing them the wrong way?

7) Am I often misunderstood?

Part 4 – I wonder what I can do to be a better listener…
1) Don’t pretend to know it all?

2) Avoid telling people what and how they should think

3) Admit your mistakes without the excuses

4) Encourage each other to keep the best interests of the group in mind

5) If you think you disagree, ask the other person to explain or clarify

6) Find out if the disagreement is about the details or the conclusion drawn

7) Find out exactly what the problem is before trying to work out the solutions

8) Make it easy for everyone to “give in” or to contribute a little

9) Use other examples or hypothetical situations as a case study to solve a hot problem or issue

10) Lastly, show your appreciation and thank others for really listening to you