Listening is an important skill to cultivate. It helps you learn, develop friendships, and show your good manners by being attentive and sharing the talking time.
But not everyone has the same idea of what good listening behavior is.
This article offers some ideas for building better listening skills. As you read them, think about how you teach good listening practices in your classroom. If you teach in a multicultural classroom, you probably teach some of these ideas with sensitivity because for some of your students, some of these practices are actually considered bad listening practices. In fact, bad manners.
Listening Helps Build FriendshipsListening is a good way to build a friendship. Good listeners know that others like to be heard, that they enjoy sharing stories about themselves, and they like the sense of connectedness when they share information, confidences, and jokes with another person.
Listening Attentively Is Sign of Good MannersListening to people when they're speaking to you shows them that you respect them. So, how do you learn to become an attentive listener? Start by looking at the behaviors of a poor listener and a good listener.
A poor listener:
Interrupts the speaker
Thinks only about what he or she is going to say next
Looks away from the person speaking
Pays attention to other things going on
Makes side comments to others
Focuses on the person talking and allows him or her to finish talking
Looks at the other person - to indicate readiness to listen, and to observe the person's body language to learn more about how the speaker is feeling
Gives nonverbal signals to show he or she is listening - a nod, smile, or frown, for example
Uses verbal signals to show interest in what the speaker is saying or to give feedback, with phrases such as
"Uh huh" or "I didn't know that." (showing encouragement)
"I'm not sure what you mean." (asking for clarification)
"You said that…" or "If I understand you correctly…" (showing an understanding of what the speaker said)
Tries to use the same energy and emotional level as the speaker, to show an understanding of what the speaker is feeling
Look the speaker in the eye
Encourage the speaker with smiles, nods, and "uh-huhs"
Pay attention to the facial expressions and body language as well as the words
Remain interested in understanding the speaker
Related ContentHow to be a good listener - What is active listening? (Texas Women's University)
Assessing your listening ability - From Integrated Curriculum for Achieving Necessary Skills (I-CANS).
Activity: Face Match - Listen and find the face that matches the description. This Web site has other listening exercises for young students.
Listening Skills - The Face It Solution for Effective Listening. From Canadian Association of Student Activity Advisors.