Are you an Active Listener?

Recently, when discussing classroom management techniques a classmate posted an article on Active Listening – and posed it as a strategy for consideration.

Epictetus famously said: We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. As a professional communicator, I can honestly say that the best communicators are the ones with the best “listening” skills.

I think this can also translate to how we act as instructors. When students have a chance to talk about what they are learning, I think it helps with their understanding.

In the article shared above, Rogers and Farson state: “Listening brings about changes in people’s attitudes towards themselves and others; it also brings about changes in their basic values and and personal philosophy. People who have been listened to in this new and special way become more emotionally mature, more open to experiences, less defensive, more democratic, and less authoritarian.”

This leads me to believe that there is a lot more power behind “Actively Listening” than I had ever previously considered.

According to Answers.com, the three characteristics of active listening are comprehending, retaining, and responding:

  • In comprehending the listener must actually hear and pay attention to all the words and sounds.
  • In retaining the listener must store those words in their memory.
  • In responding the listener gives non-verbal (such as nodding) and verbal (agreeing/disagreeing, or rephrasing the statements) cues to show that they are listening

I couldn’t find a source for these “Characteristics of active listeners” but here are a few more:

  • Spends more time listening than talking
  • Let’s the speaker finish his or her own sentences
  • Let’s the other person finish speaking before responding
  • Allows the other person to speak and does not dominate the conversation
  • Aware of own biases
  • Asks open-ended questions
  • Focuses on what is being said and not what one’s response will be to the speaker

Thanks to Audra for her post and the link to the Active Listening article. I can totally relate to her wanting to offer solutions and ideas as people are mid-sentence – as I am the same way!

I honestly have to make a huge effort to actively listen, instead of jumping in to participate – as a wife, mother, friend and teacher.

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About robincookbondy

My name is Robin Cook Bondy and I live in Ladner, BC with my husband and three sons. I am a communications and public relations professional pursuing further education in the area of adult learning.
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