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Lesson 18. Listening - Pg. 70

70 Chapter 18. Listening In this lesson you learn how to improve your listening skills. "You aren't listening!" is a common complaint made by many people who are trying to communicate with someone else. Unfortunately, some people prefer to do all the talking and none of the listening. In every successful communication, the speaker and the listener have had the opportunity to play both roles. While it may seem a bit unusual in a book on business presentations to include a lesson on listening, listening is an essential part of every presentation. We must listen during dialogue questions and question-and-answer sessions in order to handle them effectively. In addition, effective listening skills enable us to read the audience and determine their reactions to our message. Consider the Value of Listening As children, all of us learned the importance of listening. If your parents said, "Don't touch that hot stove," and you didn't pay attention you suffered the consequences. For most of us, "learning things the hard way" seemed to be a natural part of growing up. That usually meant not listening when an adult told you to do something. Plain English Listening is paying attention to sounds; hearing with thoughtful attention. School was a listening laboratory. Teachers stood at the blackboard and lectured. Coaches taught us the rules of a game and how to play it. Most of the information we gathered came from listening. As an adolescent, perhaps you worked at an after-school job. Learning how to do that job usually meant getting a set of instructions, practicing what you were told, receiving feedback from a super- visor, and, you hoped, mastering the work. Your success depended on listening. We apply the same listening skills in every job we do as adults. Studies point out that almost 50 percent of our time at work is spent listening; that nearly equals the hours we spend in reading, writing, and speaking combined. Learn the Listening Process Human sounds bombard us from every direction. We sit in meetings, pick up voice-mail messages, watch television, and receive information over the radio. We hear these sounds, but we don't always listen to them. Listening involves processing the sounds through our brains. First, the messages we hear must hold some interest for us. Otherwise, we simply ignore them. Much of what occurs in meetings, for example, falls into this category. Second, we must begin to process these messages, which means visualizing what they mean, putting them into our own words, and thinking about them.