The main reason we don’t listen is that it is hard work. We tend to rush to action, concentrate on our own talking points that will best the speaker’s, and get annoyed by the speaker talking too fast or too slow. When it comes down to it, most of us lack any training to listen well. For example, Toastmasters is an international organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs, but there is no counterpart for gaining listening skills. Experts at ComPsych, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs, including for UW, developed a workshop to address this gap. Here are their tips.
With the constant distractions from our phones and social media, it can be hard to actively listen. But, if you can focus your attention on one person and one conversation — while in class, with friends, while networking or meeting someone new — it will pay big dividends. Active listening will help you get the information you need the first time, and, perhaps most importantly, allow the person to whom you are listening to feel fully heard. Here are some tips for practicing active listening:
At its core, effective communication promotes a sense of trust. Conveying words, facial expressions and hand gestures ineffectively can erode home and work relationships. Leaving out details in your communication, forgetting to communicate important information, and not listening actively prevent you from being able to properly communicate in a way that is essential for sustaining a relationship.
Active listening is a skill that can be learned, so make time to practice. By doing so, you can help others understand you, better understand others, and build resilience and maintain balance in the different areas of your life.
The Husky Experience Toolkit is designed to help you make the most of your time at UW, wherever you are in your university career. The articles address four interconnected dimensions of the Husky Experience: Know Yourself, Know the World, Make Your Way, and Weave it Together.