Ranting About Education
What future value might classes in “Listening” have for fourth-grade, seventh-grade, and high school students?
I got an ear-full one morning while sitting in a waiting room. One person picked up on something he heard on the television. He went on-and-on about how nothing worthwhile is being taught in schools these days. No wonder they are so unsuccessful!
“How can kids learn anything if they do not even know how to listen?!?” he exclaimed.
The TV news report stated that one community was planning to close schools in order to address their economic realities. Ironically, in Oakland, California, student dropout rates are higher than average.
Many problems can result from poor listening skills:
- Making mistakes
- Not listening to important information, like customer needs or complaints
- Disregarding the ideas of co-workers and friends
- Mismanagement of time (and time is money in the business world)
- Not acting on the suggestions of others or the boss’ orders
Although the tone of the man’s voice in the waiting room sounded crazy, it was a sane and very good idea.
From my research, good listening skills should create and maintain a positive atmosphere. Non-verbal behavior is recognized as a means of communication. One can learn how to be a “sounding board” establishing and maintaining the flow of communication. The good listener also facilitates problem-solving.
Furthermore, it is important to focus the discussion on facts and not assumptions. A good listener knows how to be neutral. They can clarify points and encourage further constructive discussion. Repeating what you believe someone said to you is termed active listening.
Feedback (active listening) and time for reflection should not be underestimated.
Here are five simple concepts, which if learned, will go a long way:
- Summarize so that everyone can understand what others are saying. A summarizing technique will certainly help what was said was clearly heard.
- Ask questions to clarify communications and keep the discussion open to creative and time-saving ideas.
- Avoid making any interruptions.
- Break down listening barriers such as negative body language, facial expressions, biases, technological jargon, words with multiple meanings, a cultural misunderstanding, and emotionally-charged words and phrases.
- Practice empathy. Listen more effectively to increase understanding and clarify another’s point of view.
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