Varying Definitions of Listening in Correlation with Interpersonal Communication and
Their Effects on Real-Life Relationships
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” It has been said by through scientific view that the tree ,when it falls, it makes sound waves in the air, and to make a sound it takes an ear to hear it. So when a person speaks, and no one listens, is that really communication? Listening is one half of communication whereas speaking is the other.
Listening is absolutely necessary, and such a basic action it can be easily overlooked by other aspects of interpersonal communication. Communication is essential in relationships, both romantic and casual, as it allows us to share our interest, concerns, support each other; organize our lives and make decisions, and it allows us to work together. There are several types of listening as well as styles in which one listens.
As individuals possess their own preferred method of listening in communication, it is essential to adhere to one another’s listening style and understand the primary goal is to communicate with one another effectively.
When we hear the words “listening” and “hearing”, we usually think these words can be used interchangeably and you would think they are the same thing when in reality they are actually quite different. Hearing and listening are defined by authors, Ronald B. Adler and Russell F Proctor ll in their book, Looking Out, Looking In.
Hearing is a physical process in which sounds waves; strike the eardrum and cause vibrations that are transmitted to the brain. Whereas, listening happens when the brain recognises these waves into a representation of original sound and then gives that sound meaning. We hear all the time without listening, but listening is not automatic. We sometimes block out sounds. Theses sounds can be anything from the annoying sound of a lawn mower to us zoning out; tuning out and not listening to a lecture because it’s really boring ( Adler and Proctor ll, 2015, pp. 245-247) There are several different kinds of listening that can either be beneficial to a conversation or detrimental.
Listening is the other half of communicating and is an important skills that allows us to evaluate information as well as receive and understand what is being communicated to us. There is also a right and a wrong way to listen. According to Lumen, an education support organization for institutions, defines active listening as, “a particular communication technique that requires the listener to provide feedback on what he or she hears to the speaker”. What active listening aims to do is to confirm what was heard and to confirm understanding within both communicating parties. And the purpose of active listening is to have clear understanding as well as showing sincerity to the other party. In addition to giving clearer understanding, a lot of the time active listening is used to improve personal relationships and to reduce conflict by showing a foster of understanding.
Ineffective methods of listening can be caused by outside surroundings, as well as us blocking out sounds, or lack of concentration with the speaking party. By not paying close attention to the speaker, it can negatively impact effective listening. Such a examples include visual or auditory distractions, lack of interest in the subject material, or even personal issues can conflict with your ability to understand speakers dialogue. Other factors that can impair effective listening is when the listener focuses too much on the least important information or what the main point the speaker is trying to convey. By doing this, it makes it difficult to retain the important information needed from the conversation, and this can cause confusion between the two parties( Lumen, 2017). Ineffective listening methods can be detrimental to a relationships and can cause distance and even termination of that relationship.
A real life relationship that I will be examining will be my significant other and how listening affects our relationship. When comparing our listening styles, my listening style can be summed up as an ineffective and unaware of my environment. Whereas, his is effective and he tends to be able to paraphrase what I said to him. My listening style can also be defined as pseudolistening. According to Indiana State University’s Department of communication, pseudolistening can be explained as someone who is pretending to listen, and appears to be listening to understand or interpret messages. These listeners tend to nod, smile, or they may even respond in minimal verbal acknowledgment, but they are ignoring and unable to paraphrase what was said by the other party (Indiana State University, 2016). My listening style can be problemsome in our relationship because my partner believes that I don’t care about him, and he also can feel neglected emotionally because I am not acknowledging him and what he is saying. In all honesty I do have a hard time multi tasking. My brain can’t focus on doing a physical task and also be connected with a conversation. I believe this also can be connected with my ineffective method of listening. My partner and I are aware that my method of listening is ineffective within our relationship, but I am making conscious efforts to stop whatever task I am doing, focus, and be attentive when he and I are having a conversation. If a person has an ineffective method of listening, that method can be changed and the communication within the party will improve, along with the relationship.
There are several ways active listening can improve a relationship. Listening should be more than just waiting for your turn speak or argue back, it is a skill. By listening, true listening, it should give a person a better understanding or grasp of what the other party’s trying to convey and what the other person’s feelings are. When having a conversation with a person it is important to show investment and devoting one’s attention to whoever is speaking. Some steps that can be taken in order to improve your listening skills are with the use of traditional active listening and it is combined with empathy in order to achieve a higher form of listening. According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., ABPP, a Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, explains how empathy can be used to improve relationships in regards to communication. (sensing, processing, and responding in empathic ways),….. By adding empathy to active listening, you not only make sure that you are paying attention to what the speaker is saying, but you are also letting the speaker know. When you are asking questions when something is not clear or you let the speaker know but you remember what they were saying by paraphrasing what they said, you don’t zone out and you are showing the other party that you are invested and wanting to communicate effectively and this improves the communication and the relationship between the two.
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