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Listening in Communication: Meaning, Features, Types, Components, Process, and Barriers

What is Listening?

Listening is a natural process, it can only be inspired by increasing concentration and being conscious. It involves four distinct components which form the whole concept of listening. These are:

  • Hear
  • Comprehend
  • Retain
  • Recall

Listening is a two-way process which involves the exchange of views, ideas and emotions of the two parties involved.


Features of Listening

The followings are the features of listening:

  1. Decrease Miscommunication
  2. Enhance Morale
  3. Increase Productivity
  4. Saves Time and Cost
  5. Provide Feedback

Decrease Miscommunication

Proper listening guides to comprehending, retaining and recalling whatever has been said more effectively thereby decreasing miscommunication and errors in conversation.

Enhance Morale

Proper listening enhances the morale of the speaker and the receiver and builds a strong bond between the two.

Increase Productivity

If the listening process is appropriate between listeners and senders then proper communication builds between the superior and the subordinate. This helps in the motivation of workers. This will leads to an increase in the productivity of the organisation.

Saves Time and Cost

If listening between different levels of the organisation is proper then there’s a chance of fewer errors in communication that improves the accuracy of information. which results in a reduction in time loss thereby reducing the cost.

Provide Feedback

Effective listening helps in providing the proper and appropriate feedback according to the analysis of the information.


Types of Listening

We have discussed here the types of listening which are commonly used:

  1. Biased Listening
  2. Sympathetic Listening
  3. Empathetic Listening
  4. Critical Listening
  5. Informational Listening
  6. Selective Listening

Biased Listening

Biased listening is the type of listening that is based on preconceived notions and expectations. Here the listener wants to listen only to what she/he wants to listen to. This may be subconscious. Biased listening usually occurs in workplaces and happens where personal relationships are discussed.

Sympathetic Listening

Sympathetic listening conveys the caring attitude of the listener. The listener understands what the person is saying. Sympathetic listening occurs amongst close friends or relatives.

Empathetic Listening

Empathetic listening is similar to sympathetic listening but in this type of listening, the listener not only just listens but experiences the feelings of the speaker. At times this type of listening can affect the listener deeply. This is also known as therapeutic listening.

Critical Listening

This type of listening is critical in nature. This means here the listener gives a critical view of what is being said. This type of listening is good for businesses as it helps the listeners to pay attention to the points.

Informational Listening

Informational listening involves paying attention to the kind of information being conveyed by the speaker. this type of listening helps in pointing out the important points and discarding the non-essential points in communication.

Selective Listening

In the selective listening process, we tend to listen to only those things which we actually want to hear. It may lead to miscommunication. At times we tend to drift away or get lost while struggling hard to hear only the selective portions of the full conversation.


Components of Effective Listening

The followings are the important components of effective listening:

  1. Focus
  2. Body Language
  3. Language
  4. Avoid Noise

Focus

This is the first and most important component when we discuss effective listening. The focus should be there when we listen to someone. This shows a positive attitude and respect for the speaker.

At times we tend to lose concentration with the speaker and drift away in our own thinking while the speaker keeps on speaking. In this case, you should refocus and try to understand what the speaker wants to say.

Body Language

The proper body language helps to give a positive message to the speaker. This involves active listening. Non-verbal cues make a lot of difference while being in a tense or a difficult discussion.

Language

Language should be appropriate and simple and the use of proper words is very important for being an effective listener.

For example, if the speaker uses some complex words and sentences and it becomes difficult for the listener to understand what the speaker is saying. then it becomes difficult to comprehend the information and it leads to miscommunication.

Avoid Noise

Avoiding noise is another important component of effective listening especially. Noise disturbs the flow of communication and our concentration is interrupted so it important to avoid noise for focusing on conversation.


Process of Listening

The process of listening involves six steps which are discussed below:

Identification

The first step in the process of listening involves identifying the speech and sound. It is intentional in nature as an effort has to be made to identify the sound and select the important information.

Reception

This is the second step. The hearing ability plays an important role in receiving the message. Since listening is an active process the meaning from both verbal and non-verbal cues are to be translated.

Comprehension

In this step, the listener tries to comprehend the meaning of the words being spoken. This is like decoding the message. This occurs when there is a synchronisation between the speaker and the listener.

Evaluation

In this step, the listener tries to evaluate the information received both qualitatively and quantitatively. Through this step, the listener forms an opinion about the message received.

Retention

This step shows the ability of the listener to hold on to the message. Here, the listener categorises the information for the future. Usually, the information is stored in the memory for future use.

Feedback

The last step is using the information stored at the right time and right place. The listener can give his/her response through verbal or non-verbal cues.


Barriers to Listening

These are the barriers to listening:

  1. Selective Listening
  2. Speed of Speech vs Speed of Thought
  3. Lack of Interest
  4. Beliefs and Attitudes
  5. External Distractions

Selective Listening

In the selective listening process, we tend to listen to only those things which we actually want to hear. It may lead to miscommunication. Selective listening becomes a barrier if the listener has the following issues while listening selectively:

  • Preconceived notions about the speaker
  • Biases about the topic

Speed of Speech vs Speed of Thought

We all have a tendency of thinking faster than we can realize. Therefore, there are chances that we overthink what is being said and reach the conclusion before the speaker finishes the conversation. This acts as a barrier to effective listening.

Lack of Interest

Lack of interest is one of the most common barriers to listening. If the listener is not interested in the conversation, then it acts as a hindrance in the listening process.

Beliefs and Attitudes

We all have some opinions on various issues and hold specific values and traits. Moreover, at times we strongly feel about certain subjects and value specific behaviour.

As a result, we may react emotionally if someone challenges our beliefs and attitudes before the listener finishes his/her speech. This reaction can act as a barrier in the listening process.

External Distractions

External distractions such as background noises i.e. a telephone ringing or a fire engine racing down the road, lighting in the room or distracting pictures on the wall. etc.


FAQs

What is Listening?

Listening is a natural process, it can only be inspired by increasing concentration and being conscious. It involves the exchange of views, ideas and emotions between two parties.

What are the 5 barriers to listening?

5 Barriers to Listening are:
1. Selective Listening
2. Speed of Speech vs Speed of Thought
3. Lack of Interest
4. Beliefs and Attitudes
5. External distractions

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