"We were given two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as hard as talking."
Listeners must first hear what is said. Listening skills involve identifying and selecting relevant points recognised as having meaning; that are understood and held in short-term memory. These can be related to what has gone before and to what comes after. Any information considered important is selected and stored for future reference in the long term memory.
Decoding (understanding) a message is generally easier for the listener if a person is speaking rather than reading something out loud. In addition the speaker's facial expressions, and the stress placed on words help the listener to understand the message.
Developing effective listening skills involves two specific steps (Hartley & Bruckman, 2002). These are:
1. To develop the ability to recognize and deal with barriers that prevents you listening with full attention.
2. To develop and use behaviors which help you to listen. Such behaviors can also serve to let the other person know that you are giving them your full attention.
Listening is the absorption of the meanings of words and sentences by the brain. Listening leads to the understanding of facts and ideas. To listen is to pay attention, or sticking to the task at hand in spite of distractions. It requires concentration, which is the focusing of your thoughts upon one particular problem. A person who incorporates listening with concentration is actively listening. Active listening is a method of responding to another that encourages communication.
Active listening is composed of six distinct components
1. Hearing: The physiological process of receiving sound and/or other stimuli.
2. Attending: The conscious and unconscious process of focusing attention on external stimuli.
3. Interpreting: The process of decoding the symbols or behavior attended to.
4. Evaluating: The process of deciding the value of the information to the receiver.
5. Remembering: The process of placing the appropriate information into short-term or long-term storage.
6. Responding: The process of giving feedback to the source and/or other receivers.