Seema was out grocery shopping in a supermarket when she saw a mother telling her son strictly, “Listen carefully when I am telling you something. You need to learn to listen.” Seema didn’t get what the issue was, but one thing was clear to her: the mother was imparting the skill of listening to her child at an early age.

We are often taught that it is important to speak up and put our views forward or we would be considered weak and seen as someone who lacks confidence. While expressing yourself is important, the skill of listening is also crucial. It’s the heart and soul of any conversation.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

But what exactly does being silent mean? What goes into the listening process? How does one frame a reply or come to a solution by listening to others?

One step towards being a good listener and finding the answers to all those questions is to understand the Listening Climate concept, part of Harappa Education’s Listening Actively course. It explains the best practices used by organizations to improve listening skills.

The Five Stages Of The Listening Process

To get you started, here are the steps of listening you can follow:

  1. Receiving

It’s another annual employee survey at your workplace. But have you ever thought about how HR arrives at conclusions? By practicing the stages of listening! The first of these is the receiving stage. HR listens to the employees’ complaints and takes appropriate actions to resolve the concerns.

And this happens because your HR follows these steps throughout the receiving stage:

  • Focuses on what the employee is saying
  • Interprets the message with proper context
  • Ensures that no information is missed

  1. Understanding

‘What would you have done had you been in my place?’ This is a question you must have heard sometimes with family, friends, or colleagues.

This simple sentence shows the importance of the stages of listening. It is a sign of desperation on the speaker’s part to make himself understood. It is usually used when the speaker feels that the listener is not getting what he is trying to convey.

Pose questions to the speaker to make sure you have understood things correctly, especially in the workplace.

  1. Evaluating

The appraisal month is a busy time at workplaces every year. The reporting manager or HR calls everyone for face-to-face conversations. This is the time when employees can raise the issues or problems they face in the workplace.

However, have you ever thought about how the manager decides whether an employee is deserving or not? It is through careful evaluation. That is why all this comes under the evaluation stage of the listening process.

In this stage, the manager assesses the information about you such as your performance, team spirit, and the initiatives taken. The manager then determines whether the supporting points from the speaker, which in this case is the employee, are:

  • Well-constructed or muddled
  • Prejudiced or impartial
  • Valid or invalid

  1. Responding 

Once you have received, understood, and evaluated the information, it’s time to formulate a response or give feedback. Don’t be that silent listener in the room who does nothing but only listens. As Charles Dickens once said, “The worst of all listeners is the one who does nothing but listens.”

Responding properly will show your interest and involvement in any conversation. However, that doesn’t mean you have to come up with a smart question or feedback every time. Even simple verbal cues such as saying ‘yes’ and nonverbal ones like smiling and nodding your head will do the trick.

  1. Remembering

Remembering all the information is crucial among the steps of listening to be able to move forward in a conversation or take any action. Research shows a high possibility of forgetting up to half of what we hear within the first eight hours of listening to it.

We can develop memory capability by using the information at the earliest or by relating it to a context or previous conversation.

Have you ever tried taking an online course to improve certain skills? In such courses, typically, you have to listen more than studying. As you progress through the course, your skillset improves gradually. That’s a smart way of developing and improving your listening process! But this will only work if you can remember the core of the conversation. In case the listener can’t recall the speaker’s message, there is a possibility that the person wasn’t listening carefully. Complicated messages require developed listening skills to decipher and remember the message. Sometimes, even a little distraction can result in the misinterpretation of a message.

So next time you’re in a conversation, make sure you don’t just hear what the others are saying. Listen actively.

Explore topics and skills such as Active Listening Skills, Barriers to Effective Listening, Characteristics of a Good Listener, How to Improve Listening Skills and the Principles of Listening from our Harappa Diaries blog section to ace your soft skills.

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