There is more to communication skills than just listening. Have you been in a meeting and there is an agreement on an issue but the person in agreement is saying yes yet has their hands folded and is nodding slightly? Or maybe you have not seen this because you are not aware of non verbal communication. This awareness is a tool that is used in communication skills courses.
It is known through communication skills courses that there are 4 listening categories these are,
- The Absent Listener. This is when the person may be physically there but there mind is elsewhere. Like the owl, they appear to be listening and judging but there is nothing going on inside.
- The Elsewhere Listener. This person appears as though they are not listening but tell you to continue and insists they are listening. They may hear parts of what you are saying but hey will most likely miss out on important details.
- The Selective Listener. Trainers on communication skills courses will tell you that this is the most popular listening category. This person does hear but they prejudge the information or do not pay attention to the non verbal communication such as body language. If the person is questioned on the information they will state that they were not told yet in fact they were but they effectively tuned out that they did not hear it.
- The Fully Aware Listener. Communication skills courses will explain that this is the listener category that we should all aspire to. This person will listen to what is being said, will be aware of body language, will analyse the information given and will not judge until all of the information is heard.
To improve our listening skills there are 5 steps known to communication skills trainers, theses are to be aware of the dangers of day dreaming, visualise what is being said, body position (not to comfortable), good eating habits and keep a clear mind through relaxation techniques.
Listening is not something that we are born with; it is a skill that has to be recognised and trained.