Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

3.8. Improve your communication and listening skills

ryanrori December 31, 2020

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Improve your communication skills

Pointers before you speak:

  • If you are uncertain ask questions.  Do not make assumptions by hearing what you want to hear.  Make sure what you hear is correct. 
  • Be well prepared. If you know what you are speaking about you command attention and respect. 
  • Choose your words carefully as they not only express your thoughts, they also impress the listener or receiver. The impression your words make motivates the reaction you receive.
  • Think before you speak.  Organise your thoughts and know what you want to say.  Don’t just ramble on.
  • Use clear simple language.  Select vocabulary that your audience will relate to and understand.
  • Be specific in your choice of words so that your message or information can be correctly interpreted.  Assumptions result in the incorrect interpretation of your message, your answer or the information you are sharing.
  • Use correct pronunciation.  Use your mouth, relax your jaw and move your lips to help you pronounce words correctly.
  • Watch your pace, don’t speak too fast and don’t speak too slowly either.
  • Watch your stance, or the way in which you stand and move about.  Certain movements such as fidgeting and twitching can be irritating.
  • Remember that your body language, and your voice control, together with your facial expressions, especially your eyes, is the mirror of your emotions.  They will tell whether you are nervous, afraid, uncertain, happy, sad, angry, irritated, uncertain, confident, satisfied, positive, hesitant, insolent, sure of yourself, etc.
  • Be polite and considerate.  Respect the thoughts and opinions of others even if you do not agree.
  • The pitch of your voice must be acceptable, not too high or too low.
  • Listen to the rise and fall (inflection) of your voice.  Do not speak on the same note it becomes monotonous or boring.
  • The tone of your voice creates the atmosphere or setting for the conversation.  It could be friendly or aggressive, sad or happy. The tone determines the response or the amount of interaction you will receive.
  • Make use of the pause especially if you want to make a point or stress an important fact.  But don’t pause too often.
  • Avoid making use of qualifiers such as repeatedly using “OK” or “Um or Er and Ah”
  • Listen before you answer
  • Never chip in or interrupt to say something.

Improve your listening skills

1.    Stop talking: You cannot listen if you are talking.

2.    Put the talker at ease: Help a person feel free to talk, create a permissive environment.

3.    Show a talker that you want to listen: Look and act interested.  Do not read your mail while someone talks.  Listen to understand rather than to oppose.

4.    Remove distractions: Don’t doodle, tap, or shuffle papers.  Will it be quieter if you shut the door?

5.    Empathise with talkers: Try to help yourself see the other person’s point of view.

6.    Be patient: Allow plenty of time.  Do not interrupt a talker.  Don’t start for the door or walk away.

7.    Hold your temper: An angry person takes the wrong meaning from words.

8.    Go easy on argument and criticism: These put people on the defensive, and they may “clam up” or become angry. Do not argue: Even if you win, you lose!

9.    Ask questions: This encourages a talker and shows that you are listening.  It helps to develop points further.

10.  Stop talking!: This is the first and last, because all other guidelines depend on it.  You cannot do an effective listening job while you are talking.

  • Take notes and ask the speaker to repeat phrases that are not clear

Surveys show individuals listen about 25% of the time.

You recall only 50% of what you hear when you actually listen.

70% of all misunderstandings happen because people do not listen to each other.

clip 24If we do not upgrade our listening skills we increase the potential for conflict to occur.

What can we do?  Focus on developing the following will go a long way to building good working relationships and minimising misunderstandings.

Two men were walking along a crowded sidewalk in a downtown business area. Suddenly one exclaimed, “Listen to the lovely sound of that cricket!” But the other could not hear. He asked his companion how he could detect the sound of the cricket amidst the din of people and traffic. The first man, who was a zoologist, had trained himself to listen to the voices of nature, but he did not explain. He simply took a coin out of his pocket and dropped it on the sidewalk, whereupon a dozen people began to look about them. “ We hear,” he said “ what we listen for.”

When you are the communicator

When you are the communicator of the message, it is your responsibility to ensure that the format of the message is suitable for the recipient.  It is also your responsibility to ensure that the recipient understands the message.

  • Think about the message that you want to convey
  • Think about the format of the message – written or verbal
  • Think about the language of the message, especially when technical terms are involved
  • Consider cultural differences and the effect this will have on the message and the recipient
  • Consider the needs of the recipient of the message
  • Do not assume that the recipient has a certain level of knowledge about the subject
  • Ensure that you give the recipient enough information
  • Ensure that the recipient knows which part of the message is important
  • Be aware of your own perceptions when you think about the content of the message
  • Communicate directly with the recipient where possible

The best way to determine whether the recipient has received and understood the message is not by asking: Do you understand?”, as the recipient is likely to say Yes.  Rather have the recipient repeat the message in his/her own words.  Then you can check whether the message was understood.