The Focused discussion Model also consists of Listening and Asking Questions. These two steps are critical to successful communication. Listening is a very important skill for team leaders because much of their time is spent trying to obtain knowledge, insights, and ideas from other people. Dr. Lymon Styles said that “listening requires willingness and ability.” The willingness is our motivation or desire to become an effective listener. The ability factor can be learned or improved. A good working definition of listening is taking in or absorbing what you are told. Hearing only registers sound, but listening makes sense of it. Listening is brain work and requires sustained and interactive effort.
There are three kinds of listening: passive, active, and interactive.
Passive listening is what you do when you sit in an audience and listen to a speech, a newscast or other broadcast program. You listen passively whenever you’re unable to interact directly with the speaker. In passive listening you are unable to direct a reaction to the speaker or raise a question. When listening passively you are not able to challenge a point or request clarification and you not ask for examples that may fit your situation.
Active listening is quite different. In active listening, you can and do interact with the speaker. You can ask questions or ask the speaker to rephrase a particular point. If you agree with the speaker, you can show that agreement verbally or by body language such as nodding the head or by applause in response to a presentation.
Interactive listening requires alternate speaking and listening roles. Virtually all face-to-face and telephone communication is interactive. When we listen interactively, we don’t just listen, we also plan our response. The trick is to devote sufficient energy to both tasks. We must exercise caution that we do not give more attention to what we are going to say next than what the speaker is saying now. Interactive listening requires the discipline to listen to the speaker and absorb the ideas, even when you are more interested in your own ideas.
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