Listening Key to Communication

Part 2 of Communication Series with Kathryn Hotte: Listening

The focus is on listening in part two of LCN’s three part series on Communication with Kathryn Hotte of the Rural Alberta Business Centre (RABC). Hotte explains that listening is as important as speaking when it comes to getting your message across effectively.

“Part of communication is listening. You know that person that kinda goes on and on talking about themselves. Those are the people that like the sound of their own voice,” Hotte says we’ve all encountered on of these people in our lives, “you never get the opportunity to share, because it’s a continuous 20-30 minutes of them, talking about themselves.” It’s easy to say we’ve all ran into this type of individual in our lives; but Hotte says we also need to do some self-reflection to ensure that we are not that person. “These people consider themselves great communicators, because they do talk a lot. The problem is, they’re actually not; because communication is about sharing.”

“The best communicator is the best listener,” Hotte explains that you need to listen and retain body language ques from your audience, as well as hear what the other person(s) is saying. It’s a back and forth exchange. “Experts says, 75 percent of oral communication is either ignored, misunderstood or forgotten. Obviously, the majority of people are just not good listeners.”

Hotte says people should ask themselves, “what do I need to do to improve my listening skills and what will it give me?” By improving your listening skills you will achieve a better understanding, says Hotte, “especially, if you’re in the work place or in a job setting. You’ll have a better understanding of your team or job expectations. Instructions are not being misunderstood and the job is being done correctly.”

Listening effectively prevents misunderstandings, builds respect, improves commitment, boosts morale and allows you to anticipate any problems before the happen. Some ways to improve listening is to be more active in the “silent” part of the conversation. For example, nod along with the conversation, show your agreement or lack of with small interjections. Different from interrupting, interjections could include short phrases like “yes” or “I understand” or “I hear what you’re saying”. Another good way to actively listen is to repeat back what you heard. Summarize what was said to you by saying, “this is what I believe you’d like me to do” or “this is what I heard”.

“It helps people know they are important members of your team and that they are being heard,” listening is key to improving your communication skills and ensuring the message you are giving is being received correctly.

Next week we’ll return with Kathryn Hotte for Part three of the Communication series, leading into the RABC workshop Personality Dimensions. Part one of the Communication Series: Communicating Better can be found here.