Many people assume that listening and hearing are one and the same. However, there is a big difference between the two. Unless they were born deaf or became deaf at some point in life, many people have no problems of hearing words being said. Unfortunately, the ability to hear doesn't guarantee understanding of what is being heard. Many marriages fall apart as both husband and wife simply don't communicate effectively. While they hear each other talk, they lack comprehension in what is spoken. Family communication skills are often lacking in many marriages.
Listening requires an active approach to any conversation. Hearing is only done by the ears as sound waves hit the cochlea that translates sound into nerve impulses that the brain can process in accordance with language skills. Listening, however, requires concentration on what is spoken. The brain needs to be engaged in the act of listening, otherwise the sound it receives makes no more sense than the traffic noise.
Good communication requires the ability to hear along with the skill to pay attention so that words make sense. Communication is built on three premises. First comes the hearing and few people have problems in this department. Then comes the ability to listen. This requires more use of the mind to be able to process information. This skill is absolutely necessary for salespeople, for without it they would make very few sales if their customer's needs aren't addressed. Fewer people posses this ability as they never learned the skill to listen properly. Lastly comes the mind itself. Hearing and listening can't work if someone speaks a language that the recipient doesn't know. Many people listen quite well, but heavy accents and words being spoken too rapidly cuts down on the communication.
In the later case, the problem is not so easy to resolve. No one has the time or inclination to learn language ever spoken or would sit patiently listening to a speaker that slurs words to incomprehension.
Fortunately, listening can be improved through simple techniques:
* Pay attention. Distractions make listening difficult. Children running about, the television and stereo blaring or the sight of a gorgeous girl all draw attention away from any conversation.
* Listen with an open mind. The fact is that biases and personalities clash from time to time. Everyone sees the world in a different way. A conversation can't get very far if one or two of the participants insist on basing their talk on their personal views alone. It creates friction and animosity.
* Listening is a courtesy that is due to the speaker. It is good manners to try to see the other viewpoint. Few people develop this kind of rapport that makes both sides comfortable and want to continue the conversation. Often a good conversationalist is not someone with superior oratory skills, but has cultivated the ability to listen well. Many people admire someone who listens and doesn't talk excessively.
* Listening improves the more it is engaged in. It is not learned in college, so it must be employed constantly if the skill is to develop. One advantage that many good listeners possess is that they often have above average incomes. Through their ability, they attract more friends and more wealth.
* Of course, listening should be engaged in an environment that is conducive to the conversation depending on the subject. Seminars are good places to discuss business or anything pertaining to the seminar topic, while romantic language would be out of place in such an environment. Skillful listeners enhance their abilities by holding conversations in a setting that is most advantageous to the parties involved.
Improving listening skills is so vital and necessary for everyone. It can ease tension, remove anger and turn enemies into allies when done right. And since we are all social creatures by nature, it would be best to start learning those skills today.