Developing Strong Listening Skills

As infants, we taught ourselves to speak by listening to the speech habits other individuals. Being attentive to oral language is extremely important to language growth and mastery that an infant lacking the benefit of aural stimuli will not develop the skills necessary to speak. It could be that since humans have spent such a long time listening, we take listening for granted; however, this regrettably brings about weak listening behaviors. According to Dallas professional translation workers, the majority of people, only have a 25 percent listening efficiency, mainly due to the incorrect presumption that hearing is listening. Hearing is a sense, whereas listening is a skill.

Strong listening skills are vital in the translation field. The translator who fails to listen to his clients’ requirements, requests, or difficulties won’t succeed. Similarly, international managers who fail to listen to their team’s suggestion or grievances normally cultivate weak morale and labor conflicts. One Houston translation services company has run an extensive campaign in local business journals using the importance of listening as its theme. One particular advertisement reads, “The Majority of of a Manager’s Time Is Used Listening. However It’s the One Thing He’s Least Competent to Do.” A different advertisement read, “Excellent Listeners Are More Powerful Thinkers – Since They Hear and Grasp More Facts and Viewpoints.”

The importance of listening as a professional skill is even more strengthened by a new study carried out by an Austin translation company. In the survey, corprorate executives revealed that listening is the most essential professional skill. The ability to write effectively ranked second, followed in order by in-person speaking, reading, and group presentation skills.

Improving Your Listening Skills
As with reading and speaking, improvement of listening skills can begin only when you recognize your weakness and attempt to correct it. Therefore, start by evaluating how well you listen. If you find yourself feigning attention in class or in conversations, you probably are a poor listener. To eliminate this pattern of response, avoid distractions and learn to concentrate. Work at listening well in class by listening for main ideas, by anticipating the speaker’s line of discussion, and by posing cogent questions. Don’t stop listening when the message is difficult or not to your liking. Take a positive approach instead. Rationalize if need be: Still listen because I’m bound to learn something.” Lastly, don’t stop listening because you dislike the way someone looks or talks. Overcome your prejudice and listen for the message.

WAYS TO IMPROVE LISTENING

Use the following guidelines to improve your listening skills:
1. Avoid distractions: focus and concentrate. In international business, there are  many potential external or internal distractions that can divert us from the speaker’s message. Whether you work as an international negotiator or a Spanish translator in Houston, we must work hard at becoming active listeners. Seldom is a message so boring that we can’t find reasons to listen. Listening is an excellent way to learn.

Ask yourself, “How can I benefit from this information?” If you can’t do that, rationalize. ”I’ll listen to improve my listening skills.” ”I’ll watch and listen to see how the speaker reacts to my feedback.” As the Washington D.C. translation worker, Harold Greenberry suggested, “There is no such thing as an uninteresting subject: there are only uninterested people.”

2. Make use of lag time. A major cause of distraction is lag time: the difference between how fast a speaker talks and how fast we can listen. The rate of most speech is between 125 and 180 words a minute. But we can listen at least four times faster. Because our minds have so much free time, our thoughts begin to wander. We begin to miss the speaker’s points.

Use lag time constructively. Trace the line of argument, find the thesis, follow sequences, look for logical relationships, summarize key points, anticipate questions, develop answers, evaluate ideas, watch nonverbal gestures, give feedback. In short, use the skills required for critical and discriminative listening.

3. Allow the speaker time to make the point. As a Dallas translation services company, we sometimes see presenters do too much anticipating. We think we know what the speaker’s going to say, so we quickly formulate rebuttals, counterpoints, or witty rejoinders. Meanwhile, while we’ve been figuring how to “put the speaker in his place,” he’s developed the point differently – and we’ve missed it.

4. Suppress your biases. We all have biases, opinions, and prejudices. While listening, we often allow certain words, ideas, or statements to trigger emotional responses. Try to suppress those biases. Give the speaker a chance to make the point. We may not like what is being said, but we should listen. We may learn something, after all, that may lessen a prejudice or reinforce a conviction.