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Unit Outline
The Fundamentals of Listening
Understanding Listening
1. Why is listening important?
2. How does listening benefit me?
* You gain new information
* You are appreciated
* Your productivity increases
3. What are the misconceptions about listening?
* Listening is a passive activity
* Listening requires agreement
* Speakers are responsible for successful communication
4. What is the difference between hearing and listening?
Unit Content
The Fundamentals of Listening
Understanding Listening
Why is listening important?
Employees and managers spend more time and energy listening than any other communicative activity.
Employees spend between 70 to 90 percent of their time listening to others give instructions, discuss
problems, or outline goals. Individuals must therefore develop listening skills to communicate
successfully in the workplace.
How does listening benefit me?
Good listening skills benefit you in three ways:
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You gain new information


You are appreciated
Your productivity increases

You gain new information

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Good listening skills allow you to gain information you need on a daily basis. When you have a broader
information base about your responsibilities, you become more efficient at making decisions,
completing tasks, and solving problems.
You are appreciated
Listening to your superiors' ideas and requests helps make you a valuable asset to your organization.
Effective listening improves your interpersonal skills and improves your efficiency, which will allow
you to gain the appreciation of upper management.
Your productivity increases
Listening helps you learn new and innovative ways to perform your responsibilities. Listening to other
employees describe their successes and adapting the same principles to your own tasks helps you
increase your productivity and, therefore, your value to the organization.
What are the misconceptions about listening?
You should be aware of three misconceptions about listening:
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Listening is a passive activity


Listening requires agreement
Speakers are responsible for successful communication

Listening is a passive activity


The misconception that listening does not require effort causes many communication problems. You
need to become an active listener by questioning a speaker's supporting facts, demonstrating that you are
listening, and blocking out distractions. Actively listening to a speaker allows you to evaluate the
message.
Many individuals believe that listening skills are learned over time and without much effort. However,
listening is a process in which you determine what information is important. You have to learn how to
focus on the information presented in order to gather important facts.
Listening requires agreement
Some speakers believe that listeners have to agree with everything they say for successful
communication to take place. However, your responsibility is to gather and evaluate information the
speaker offers, not agree with everything that is being said. In fact, if you automatically accept a
speaker's message, you may overlook inconsistencies or errors in their argument.
Do not feel pressured into agreeing with what a speaker says. Successful communication can still occur
even if you question the speaker's message.
Speakers are responsible for successful communication
One misconception about listening is that a speaker is completely responsible for communication to be
successful. However, both the speaker and the listener are responsible for establishing effective
communication. While a speaker's responsibility is to speak clearly and accurately, you must make a

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conscious effort to interpret a speaker's message.


What is the difference between hearing and listening?
The primary difference between hearing and listening is that hearing is a physical ability, whereas
listening is a cognitive action. Therefore, listening is a conscious act of collecting information from a
speaker and effectively interpreting it.
Copyright 2001 National Education Training Group, Inc.

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