Assignment | Discussion on Listening
An essential element to improving your communication skills is your ability to become self-aware of your own mistakes and short-comings and take ownership of them.This discussion requires you to be honest with yourself and refrain from attributing blame to others. This assignment requires you to demonstrateaccountabilityand explore specific ways to improve your communication skills.
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Reflect on your listening behaviors in in the professional environment (or college environment). In a 200-300 word post identify two barriers to effective listening that hinder your ability to actively/mindfully listen. Explain.Using what you learned in either William Ury’s TED Talk, Celeste Headlee’s TED Talk, or the HBR articleWhat Great Listeners Actually Doby Jack Zenger, identify specific changes you will make in order to become a more active/ mindful/ genuine listener? Be specific. Explain.
Appropriate Integration of Course Concepts and Terms- 20 Points: your initial response should appropriately integrate course terminology and concepts from class materials.
Organization, evidence of proofreading, spelling checked and proper capitalization- 10 Points: Your posts should demonstrate that you carefully proofread, be organized, free of spelling errors, typos and fragments and follow capitalization conventions.
Chances are you think youre a good listener. Peoples appraisal of their listening ability is
much like their assessment of their driving skills, in that the great bulk of adults think theyre
In our experience, most people think good listening comes down to doing three things:
Not talking when others are speaking
Letting others know youre listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (Mmm-
Being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word
In fact, much management advice on listening suggests doing these very things encouraging
listeners to remain quiet, nod and mm-hmm encouragingly, and then repeat back to the
talker something like, So, let me make sure I understand. What youre saying is However,
recent research that we conducted suggests that these behaviors fall far short of describing
good listening skills.
We analyzed data describing the behavior of 3,492 participants in a development program
designed to help managers become better coaches. As part of this program, their coaching
skills were assessed by others in 360-degree assessments. We identified those who were
perceived as being the most effective listeners (the top 5%). We then compared the best
listeners to the average of all other people in the data set and identified the 20 items showing
the largest significant difference. With those results in hand we identified the differences
between great and average listeners and analyzed the data to determine what characteristics
their colleagues identified as the behaviors that made them outstanding listeners.
We found some surprising conclusions, along with some qualities we expected to hear. We
grouped them into four main findings:
Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks. To the
contrary, people perceive the best listeners to be those who periodically ask questions that
promote discovery and insight. These questions gently challenge old assumptions, but do
so in a constructive way. Sitting there silently nodding does not provide sure evidence that
a person is listening, but asking a good question tells the speaker the listener has not only
heard what was said, but that they comprehended it well enough to want additional
information. Good listening was consistently seen as a two-way dialog, rather than a one-
way speaker versus hearer interaction. The best conversations were active.
Good listening included interactions that build a persons self-esteem. The best listeners
made the conversation a positive experience for the other party, which doesnt happen
when the listener is passive (or, for that matter, critical!). Good listeners made the other
person feel supported and conveyed confidence in them. Good listening was characterized
by the creation of a safe environment in which issues and differences could be discussed
Good listening was seen as a cooperative conversation. In these interactions, feedback
flowed smoothly in both directions with neither party becoming defensive about comments
the other made. By contrast, poor listeners were seen as competitive as listening only to
identify errors in reasoning or logic, using their silence as a chance to prepare their next
response. That might make you an excellent debater, but it doesnt make you a good
listener. Good listeners may challenge assumptions and disagree, but the person being
listened to feels the listener is trying to help, not wanting to win an argument.
Good listeners tended to make suggestions. Good listening invariably included some
feedback provided in a way others would accept and that opened up alternative paths to
consider. This finding somewhat surprised us, since its not uncommon to hear complaints
that So-and-so didnt listen, he just jumped in and tried to solve the problem. Perhaps
what the data is telling us is that making suggestions is not itself the problem; it may be the
skill with which those suggestions are made. Another possibility is that were more likely to
accept suggestions from people we already think are good listeners. (Someone who is silent
for the whole conversation and then jumps in with a suggestion may not be seen as
credible. Someone who seems combative or critical and then tries to give advice may not be
seen as trustworthy.)
While many of us have thought of being a good listener being like a sponge that accurately
absorbs what the other person is saying, instead, what these findings show is that good
listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of and rather
than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking. They
make you feel better not merely passively absorbing, but by actively supporting. This lets you
gain energy and height, just like someone jumping on a trampoline.
Of course, there are different levels of listening. Not every conversation requires the highest
levels of listening, but many conversations would benefit from greater focus and listening
skill. Consider which level of listening youd like to aim for:
Level 1: The listener creates a safe environment in which difficult, complex, or emotional
issues can be discussed.
Level 2: The listener clears away distractions like phones and laptops, focusing attention on
the other person and making appropriate eye-contact. (This behavior not only affects how
you are perceived as the listener; it immediately influences the listeners own attitudes and
inner feelings. Acting the part changes how you feel inside. This in turn makes you a better
Level 3: The listener seeks to understand the substance of what the other person is saying.
They capture ideas, ask questions, and restate issues to confirm that their understanding is
Level 4: The listener observes nonbverbal cues, such as facial expressions, perspiration,
respiration rates, gestures, posture, and numerous other subtle body language signals. It is
estimated that 80% of what we communicate comes from these signals. It sounds strange to
some, but you listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
Level 5: The listener increasingly understands the other persons emotions and feelings about
the topic at hand, and identifies and acknowledges them. The listener empathizes with and
validates those feelings in a supportive, nonjudgmental way.
Level 6: The listener asks questions that clarify assumptions the other person holds and helps
the other person to see the issue in a new light. This could include the listener injecting some
thoughts and ideas about the topic that could be useful to the other person. However, good
listeners never highjack the conversation so that they or their issues become the subject of the
Each of the levels builds on the others; thus, if youve been criticized (for example) for
offering solutions rather than listening, it may mean you need to attend to some of the other
levels (such as clearing away distractions or empathizing) before your proffered suggestions
can be appreciated.
We suspect that in being a good listener, most of us are more likely to stop short rather than
go too far. Our hope is that this research will help by providing a new perspective on
listening. We hope those who labor under an illusion of superiority about their listening skills
will see where they really stand. We also hope the common perception that good listening is
mainly about acting like an absorbent sponge will wane. Finally, we hope all will see that the
highest and best form of listening comes in playing the same role for the other person that a
trampoline plays for a child. It gives energy, acceleration, height and amplification. These are
the hallmarks of great listening.
P O S T