Listening is a vital skill used every day by everyone and is essential for effective communication. Even before we are born, research has shown that fetuses actively process auditory stimuli, and can differentiate between music and language, amongst other sounds” (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2018). This ability continues throughout life, showing that humans are attentive and listen to the world around us in order to make sense of the various stimuli coming into our brains (Tierney & Nelson, 2009). This research demonstrates that listening is a vital skill for survival and life.
Although listening is a skill we learn when we are developing, it is still possible to make mistakes; when someone does not use the process of listening or uses it incorrectly, such as being distracted by technology, this causes miscommunications. Even if the miscommunication is small or harmless, it is best if we can avoid these mishaps altogether and learn to be better communicators. Using this knowledge, I have developed a few personal listening goals that I hope to begin to achieve this semester and use for the rest of my life.
One specific listening goal I have is to fully listen to someone when they are talking and wait to respond before I interrupt them. This is an important listening goal to work on because interrupting the person communicating is inappropriate and I must take into consideration my attention and contextual factors (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2018). Sometimes I get an idea or feel like I have a really good response so I want to share it with that person or group of people so that I don’t forget it.
However, I know that constantly interrupting someone can be disrespectful and will be viewed as not caring about their message, which is the opposite of what I want to portray. Usually when I interrupt it is because of the opposite; I am overly excited or interested in the conversation and want to contribute as well. With that intention in mind, I will work on actively listening to the whole time someone is speaking to me and then formulate my ideas and response at the end of their message to really evaluate what they are saying and remain respectful and attentive.
The second listening goal I am making this semester is to “listen to listen” and not “listen to respond.” By this I mean that I want to focus on listening to a person for the sake of listening to them and possibly learning new things as opposed to listening to them just to generate a response. I want the other person, or people, to feel like I really care about what they are communicating to me and that their message does not “go in one ear and out the other.” I would like to “stay connected and motivated” with others so that they feel comfortable to confide in me without me giving them simple responses that don’t show much compassion (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2018).
My third personal listening goal is to actively use the current listening models as presented in our book, such as the HURIER model and MATERRS model and identify steps that I do not pay as much attention to. For example, in the HURIER model, one of the steps that I may not use as deeply as others would be the Interpreting Step, in which I should use “the interaction context and knowledge of the other person to assign meaning to the message” (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2018). For some people I do not always think about my relationship with them or knowledge of them as a person when I listen and respond to their message. I feel that at times I might just hear what they say and understand it, but not place any association with our relationship to it. Another part of the models I would like to use in a more positive way is the evaluating step in which I incorporate my own personal biases to the message and speaker. I know that it is harder to place an importance on someone’s message if you view them negatively, so I would like to try to still listen to their message without such a negative connotation in order to create a more appropriate response. Another reason why I made this one of my personal listening goals has to do with my future career. As a nurse, even if you don’t necessarily like someone, you have to be able to put those personal biases aside and listen to the patient’s history and complaints in order to offer them some help and possible relief of pain and symptoms. Therefore, being able to know when certain personal biases and interpretations are appropriate to the situation will be vital for my success in life and as a future nurse.
All of these goals are personally important to me because I not only want to develop into a better listener, and thus communicator, but especially as a future health care professional, listening will be one of the most important skills I use in order to ensure that my patients are taken care of properly and compassionately. With my three goals of not interrupting someone, being a more active listener, and “listening to listen” my listening and communication skills will enhance in a positive way that will benefit myself as well as others, such as future patients.