Where there’s an absence of active listening, there’s poor communication, and where there’s poor communication, opportunities are missed and issues are produced or perpetuated.
Active listening encourages individuals to open up, reduces the opportunity for misunderstandings, assists to resolve issues and conflicts, and builds trust.
Study has shown that the majority of individuals invest up to 90% of their waking time engaged in some type of communication, be that reading, writing, speaking or listening. Having said that, over half of our communication time is taken up with listening – or what passes for listening. Anybody in a managerial position is most likely to devote as much as 70% of their communication time to listening. The higher up the chain of command you go, increased demand is placed on the individual to listen to their employees.
Studies also reveal that we usually hear only around 25% to 50% of what’s said to us. Out of a 10 minute conversation, you might be receiving only 2½ to five minutes of helpful info. While that might be sufficient to grasp the general thrust of the conversation, it still leaves 50% to 75% that has passed you by. The possibility for essential points to be missed is therefore substantial.
In a way, the significance of listening hardly requires explaining. Nobody can live in today’s world and not comprehend the requirement to communicate with other people. It isn’t the significance of listening that truly demands stressing; it’s the misconception that listening is simple and occurs by default. All human relationships, from the most intimate that we have with our partner and kids, through those we have with buddies and our extended family members, to those that happen in our work life, and those we have with mere acquaintances – all these relationships are based on our capability to communicate successfully.
One of the most typical complaints following any failed personal relationship is that the other party didn’t listen, or that there was a lack of understanding, which amounts to the exact same thing.
When an individual appears to be listening but fails to really comprehend what’s being said and where the other person is coming from, this is simply because listening has not truly taken place – not the active listening that matters.
Human beings are social creatures. Not only is communication unavoidable, it’s really desirable. We crave interaction as a way of enlivening our time on this earth. It permits us to express our emotions – our hopes and fears, joys and sorrows – and share them with other individuals who we believe might be interested, or who might have the ability to assist us make sense of them. But when we speak, there has to be somebody listening for it to have any point.
In simple terms, speaking is one individual reaching out, and listening is another person accepting and taking hold. Together, they form communication, and this is the basis of all human relationships. This being the case, it’s essential that the listener is really listening with a view to providing constructive feedback. How catastrophic would it be if a depressed individual calls a helpline and after fifteen minutes of pouring out their heart, the listener said: “Uh-huh. What? Sorry, I wasn’t listening, tell me once more.” A failure to listen can produce immense hurt, if not genuine harm.
Active listening tells the speaker that what they have to say matters. It creates a sense of confidence that guidance is at hand; guidance which will be considered and helpful. A listener is really a sounding board that permits the speaker to develop thoughts that might, up to that moment, have been tough to clarify.