Dr. V.S. Gayathri
How To Nurture An Active Listener?
“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It's a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.” — Deborah Tannen
Listening is probably one of the most powerful aspects of communication which is often ignored the most. A study points out that around 80% of our waking hours are spent in some form of communication. Of that time, we spend about 45% listening. It also confirms that most of us are poor and inefficient listeners.
Some of the bad listening habits or signs can be:
- Faking attention
- Labelling the subject as boring
- Listening only for facts
- Creating distractions
Hence, it is very important to continuously improve our listening skills, especially for kids so that they can master one of the most important elements of communication.
What is active listening?
Active Listening is the way to improve your listening skills through practice. It is the ability to focus completely on a speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information and respond thoughtfully.
Here, you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, the complete message being communicated. Active listening supports your ability to focus and also helps ensure that the speaker can see that you are focused and engaged.
Why is it important and should be nurtured in kids?
There are many reasons why active listening is important and should be nurtured in children from a young age.
In their formative years, it is essential to teach them how to listen more than anything else. Studies in Psychology suggest that listening properly is closely related to the proper, rounded growth of the child. We all know that young children are very observant and promptly receptive to things happening around them. These observations can quickly become habits and play a huge role in how the child thinks and reacts to the surrounding environment and people.
Improves concentration and memory- It helps to build their attention span and focus and hence improves memory.
Improves Vocabulary- Listening plays an important role in developing their vocabulary and language processing. The more they listen, the more they will be able to pick up new words and expressions.
Adds Clarity to Communication and Thought- Understanding words and their context helps children express their thoughts more clearly and logically.
Builds Confidence-While listening seems like an ordinary thing, most of us listen to reply than to understand which boosts our self-confidence to express.
Improves Relationships- Listening helps to build better interpersonal relationships by nurturing empathy and compassion.
Enables Experiential Thinking- Listening triggers experiential learning which is the process where you combine audio with other senses to grasp concepts faster.
How to nurture an active listener?
- Show them how to make eye contact while the other person speaks. In general, one should aim for eye contact about 60% to 70% of the time while they are listening.
- Tell them no to interrupt while the other person is speaking. Rather, they can gather their thoughts and clarify once the speaker is done.
- Listen to them yourself to make them understand the importance of listening.
- Urge them to ask questions. Active listening will always be more effective when they understand and ask questions.
- Emphasize the importance of non-verbal communication as it is a major part of listening as well.
- Teach them to be patient while they listen. We are capable of listening much faster than others can speak.
- Motivate them to be open, neutral, and non-judgmental while listening.
What is a ‘self-monitoring technique for students’?
Here, you can encourage them to practice active listening on their own. It can be done by F.A.C.T.
F- Focus Attention on what is being said
A- Ask Yourself Questions to clarify your thoughts
C- Connect Ideas while listening to different concepts
T- Try to Picture Important Ideas in your mind while you listen to the speaker
As a parent and a teacher, it is very important to help a child build active listening skills from an early age which will surely become one of the most important life skills for them.