10 Things You May Not Know About Listening

The most
important fact about listening is that we hear with our ears, but we
listen with our minds.  All kinds of sounds register in our ears, but
unless the mind decides to pay attention to sounds we’ll not know a
thing about the message being sent.  Here are ten important,
research-based facts about listening:

1.  About 70% of our waking day is spent in one or more of the four
kinds of communication.  Listening, 42%.  Talking, 32%.  Reading 15%. 
Writing 11%.

2.  In general, listening CAPACITY increases with age, but listening HABITS deteriorate with age.

3.  Listening experts believe that people in our culture are taught
NOT to listen (Information is repeated, and people are not held
responsible for effects of poor listening.)

4.  In most situations where selling of ideas, services or products
is the focus, there is a kind of “80 Percent Syndrome” at work.  The
person doing the selling is talking 80% of the time.  Contrary to
popular opinion, however, the best selling is not done by the guy with
the fastest mouth in the West.  In the vast majority of cases
(internally or externally to the organization), selling success begins
with the ability to ask good questions and then listen–really
listen–to the answers.

5.  Active listening is fundamentally about questioning.  Out loud
and silently, trying to understand what the other is saying and
meaning.  That means summarizing, clarifying and anticipating are all
part of listening.

6.  As much as 50% of a given message is typically misunderstood without engaging in active listening.

7.  Like most communication skills, listening is not much imporved by merely trying to listen better.  Listening is learned in much the same manner as are reading and writing–by training and study of the art.

8.  Focusing on the structure of the message, rather than factual details is fundamental to listening success.

9.  One important key to effective listening is controlling our emotional response to words, ideas and “hot” issues.

10. Listening needs to be obvious as well as active.  The verbally
or nonverbally reticent create difficulties for a speaker.  Lack of
obvious responsiveness can intimidate a speaker.  Remember the truism: 
the listener controls the speaker.

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