Step 1: Learn to withstand distractions. In an ideal world, we could get rid of all physical and mental distractions. In the real world, however, this is not possible.
Since we think so much faster than a speaker can talk, it’s easy to let our attention wander while we listen.
Sometimes it’s very easy – when the room is too hot, when construction machinery is operating right outside the window, when the speaker is tiresome.
But our attention can wander away even in the best of circumstances – if for no other reason than a failure to stay alert and make ourselves concentrate.
Whenever you find this occurrence, make a conscious effort to pull your mind back to what the speaker is saying.
Then force it to stay there. One way to do this is to think a little earlier than the speaker – try to foresee what will come next. This is not the same as jumping to conclusions. When you jump to conclusions, you put words into the speaker’s mouth and don’t really listen to what is said.
In this case, you will listen – and measure what the speaker says against what you had predicted. Another way to keep your mind on a speech is to analyze mentally what the speaker has already said and ensure you understand it.
Yet another is to listen between the lines and evaluate what a speaker implies verbally or says nonverbally with body language.
Step 2: By means of first deciding to take listening seriously, you can become a better listener! The first step to improvement is always self-awareness. Examine your shortcomings as a listener and entrust yourself to overcoming them.
Good listeners are not born that way. They have worked at learning how to listen efficiently. Good listening does not go hand in hand with intelligence, education, or social standing. Like any other skill, it comes from practice and self-discipline.
You should begin to visualize listening as an active process. So many features of modern life encourage us to listen passively. We “listen” to the radio while studying or “listen” to the television while moving about from room to room.
This type of passive listening is a habit – but so is active listening. We can learn to recognize those situations in which active listening are significant. If you work seriously at becoming a more effective listener, you will reap the rewards in your schoolwork, in your personal and family relations, and in your career.
6 Ways To Control Listening Distractions
Distractions can destroy listening ability. We are bounded by noise in the office and at home. We can be sidetracked by physical barriers, such as the placement of a desk or a seating arrangement in a group meeting, or internal distractions both at home and in the business place.
If you are going to be an efficient listener, you need to manage both your external and internal environment.
- At home, be firm that the television, radio, and stereo are turned off if there is to be a grave conversation.
- Get rid of all noise that is distracting you from listening. If that is not possible, move to another room, close the door or do whatever is essential to mute the noise or remove it.
- Get rid of physical barriers or move to a different area so that the barriers do not get in the way of your listening.
- Go into a listening situation with an open mind. Do away with the internal distractions that you may have such as fear, worry, being unprepared, etc.
- If you can’t organize the environment, reschedule or move to another environment.
- If you’re in charge of scheduling the meeting – family or business – chose a neutral environment to enhance listening and communication. Try to avoid “home turf,” where one of the participants will have the emotional advantage.