Be a Good Listener
Be a Good Listener

Be a Good Listener

A person will be able to write well if he reads a lot. And it will be a good and purposeful speaker as well when that person is at the same time a good listener. So, the analogy is, if we hear that we liken it to water spilled into a tank, then talking is water that is channeled and radiated through the faucet. The water in the faucet will come out heavily when the tank is in a filled condition, and vice versa.  There is an ancient admonition saying, “We have been given two ears and only one mouth, so that we may listen and not talk much”. But in practice, in communication activities there is little that we use to listen.

Listening is more than hearing. There is an intellectual and emotional process in which it integrates skills in the search for meaning. Listening effectively doesn’t come easily. This is a very difficult job. We often hear words, but we also often lose the message conveyed.

If we want to improve the effectiveness of listening skills, we must first understand that the results of listening depend a lot on various factors. There are many things about the requirements that must be met. The speed of speaking is generally around 120 to 180 words per minute. We can generally listen with a good understanding at 500 to 800 words per minute. This gap actually provides time for listeners to effectively listen. But what happens is a tendency to pay less attention to the speaker’s words. No matter how long the speaker’s message is, we only need half of the available time to understand the words (comprehension time), while the other half (reaction time) to carry out what we choose. A good listener will use reaction time to his advantage for better communication as a whole, while a bad listener will waste, or worse abuse it so that the understanding of the message is lacking.

Learn to Listen

Listening is the earliest acquired communication skill, which is most often used, but also the least mastered. Over the years of formal schooling, students spend 50% or more of their communication time listening, followed by speaking, reading and writing. However, the amount of time students receive reverse skills, they only slightly gain listening skills. So what we are encountering now is the weakness of students to be more able to listen effectively. But this is nothing to worry about because the theory says that listening can be learned, bad listening habits can be changed by practicing.

Hearing and listening is different. Listening is “an attempt to make aware to hear” or “pay attention to sounds.” This is proof that listening involves more than hearing. Basically, listening has to do with the physical acceptance of sound and is a voluntary act; listening has to do with the perception of meaningful sounds and is a voluntary act. Listening is possible due to the presence of a pause between the spoken word and the mental activity of the listener. To really listen, requires the development of good listening habits. To do this, we must first, pay attention to the message of the speaker, share in communication, understand body language and, finally effective listening, depending on the purpose of communication.

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Categories Listeners

Many types of listeners. Typically, researchers separate listeners into three or four types. All of those categories are just slightly different in the way they hear. Three types of listening specifically: time waster, dissonance reducer and active listener. Time waster, often daydreaming at listening time. Actually, this is not too bad, because they can provide a healthy channeling for their imagination. But they can lose control and understanding of what the speaker is saying will be lost. Reducing dissonance, seeking to overcome the internal conflicts they face from the new information received, which is inconsistent with their initial understanding. This is how they receive and process new information. They need to sharpen their listening skills to achieve a new ability called active listening. As active listeners they should listen to a greater degree of sensitivity, so that they better understand what is being said. Here they must understand not only the content of the message, but also the feelings of the speaker.

When people listen, they fall into one of four general categories. Each category requires depth of concentration and sensitivity from the listener. The four types are: non-listeners, marginal listeners, evaluative listeners, and active listeners.

Non-listeners, do not hear others and make no effort to hear what others say. Non-listeners do a lot of talking, continue to annoy the speaker, rarely interested in what the speaker has said.

Marginal listeners, constitute the second level. At this level they hear voices and words but don’t really listen. This type is a superficial listener, staying on the surface of the problem, will not go deeper. Problems are often delayed into the future rather than dealing in the present. They prefer to avoid difficult or technical presentations, and when they are not listening, they tend to focus on the bottom line, facts, rather than the main ideas. Marginal listening is very dangerous, because there is great room for misunderstanding when they are only superficially concentrating on what is being said.  Speakers may believe they are being listened to and understood, but in reality not at all.

Evaluative deterrent, the listener actively seeks to hear what the speaker is saying, but makes no effort to understand the point. They tend to be more logical listeners, who are more concerned with content than feelings. This listener is not good at “parroting” the spoken word, and completely ignores the part of the message carried in the speaker’s body language, vocal intonation and facial expressions. The evaluative listener is convinced that he or she has understood the speaker’s message, but the speaker does not feel understood. The evaluative listener forms an opinion about the speaker’s words even before the message is finished and this risks not understanding the true meaning of the message.

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Active deterrent is the highest level and the most effective in listening. They refrain from evaluating words and try to look at things from the point of view of the speaker, they are effectively listening. Active listening requires that we listen not only to the content of the speaker’s message, but more importantly, to the intent and feelings of the message as well. Listeners actively pay attention and show, both verbally and nonverbally that they are really interested and listening. They are usually skilled at asking questions, but never bother and are always looking for verbal and visual cues that indicate the other person has something to say.

Listeners are active, feel, attend and respond. Feeling is the ability to recognize and appreciate the message at the time when the speaker is sending a message, that is, facial expressions, intonation and body language. Attending refers to the verbal, vocal and visual messages that the listener sends back to the speaker, acknowledging the speaker’s message. They respond without disturbing and without invading the “personal space” of the speaker. Responding is when the listener gets feedback on the accuracy of the content and feelings of the speaker, tries to gather more information. trying to make the speaker feel understood and encourage the speaker to better understand themselves, their problems and concerns.

Active Listening Techniques

There are several active listening techniques that help us in listening. Among others: paraphrasing, reflection, neutral techniques, clarification and summarization. The first technique, paraphrasing, is to repeat the speaker’s words. This is very useful in testing our understanding of what the speaker is referring to and allows them to know we are actively listening. Reflection, this is slightly different from paraphrasing, that the listener tells the speaker what the listener feels from the content of the message. This is especially important when the speaker expresses strong feelings. Neutral techniques encourage the speaker to continue speaking. A simple nod of the head or “uh-huh” is usually an effective signal that the listener gives to rest and listen. Clarification is a technique used when we need more information of a special nature. Usually this is takes the form of a question. The last technique is summarization. It involves combining the speaker’s thoughts into a short statement focusing on the speaker’s key points. This is especially valuable in group discussions where multiple statements from different people need to be combined.


Listen empathically

Empathy is the ability to understand someone or something from the perspective of another person. It is a sincere and continuous effort to appreciate how and why others interpret such things and to understand things in the way that people understand them. Listening empathetically is like experiencing the inner world of others. Empathic listeners seek to obtain an accurate understanding of the other person from their personal frame, and to convey the understanding that returns to the person. Three things the listener can do to convey empathy. First, it shows a desire to understand the person. Secondly, it reflects one’s feelings. Third, the sensory and nonverbal behavior of a person.

Shows a desire to understand, helps to maintain relationships with others when our understanding is low on the speaker’s message. It involves the use of responses, both verbal and nonverbal. Using active listening skills such as; clarification, paraphrasing and summarizing indicate significantly our desire to understand the inner world of the speaker. In addition, the use of “attending skills” such as; minimizing distractions, proper eye contact, and proper animation all indicate our desire to understand. Expressing our desire to understand others is important, especially in situations where people tend to believe that we want to understand. In this occasion, involving conflicts or strong emotions, and showing the desire to listen rather than speak shows that we care about that person and that we are open to communication.

When we think we understand someone’s feelings, is the first step in conveying our empathy. Reflecting back to the speaker the feelings expressed is the most effective way to do it. Reflecting on the feelings of the person can achieve several goals; helps people feel understood especially when done correctly, encourages people to become more aware of their feelings and express them, helps to distinguish the various feelings of the speaker more accurately, and finally reflection is very helpful in expressing negative feelings such as anger or fear. A reflection response helps us express feelings fuller and facilitates communication.

Listeners who respond in the same sensory and nonverbal modes as the speaker, are considered more empathetic. When people feel very understanding, they are more likely to feel accepted, cared for and valued by the listener, and much of the influence of understanding empathy comes from the non-judgmental quality of listening. Empathy enhances cooperation and builds relationships with people, both personal and group relationships.


Thus, the article about learning to be a good listener, thank you and let’s continue to Improveourself



Best Regards,

Yusli Anggita


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