Improve Listening Skills

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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The first step for those seeking to improve listening skills is understanding what different types of messages have to offer. Think of what it's like sitting down with an old buddy over a couple of drinks and catching up on your pasts. Are you listening for a specific set of instructions? Of course not. You're listening in order to share in the joy of a stroll down memory lane.

Now imagine that you've just bought a narrated history of Old Britannia on DVD. You're not sitting down in front of the TV set to share a laugh with the old white-haired academic holding the pointer before a drop-down map of 19th-century Western Europe. Rather, you're listening for the sake of knowledge. You may appreciate the narrator's performance, but you also hope to walk away with something you didn't know before. Clearly, the two scenarios are worlds apart.

Additional Tips To Improve Listening Skills

The rates at which we speak and understand language are also far removed from one another. By some estimates, we speak roughly as fast as we read, which may be anywhere up to a couple of hundred words per minute. By contrast, we can understand up to 500 or 600 words a minute, which means we're only using a fraction of our total capabilities when we tune in to others. What becomes of the difference? Usually, that extra attention falls on something else like a passing car or a far-off cubicle.

Those looking to improve listening skills must work on "active" listening so that 100 percent of their cognitive capabilities are invested in their speakers' messages. Once this happens, you can't help but to become a part of your interlocutor's tale, even if it's only for a fleeting moment. As you improve listening skills, you'll learn to respond to speakers more intelligently or simply appreciate their anecdote more fully.


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