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A Summary and Review of Listening: The Forgotten Skill by Madelyn Burley-allen

This summary and review of the book, “Listening: The Forgotten Skill: A Self Teaching Guide”, was prepared by Michael Hebert while a Business Administration student in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana.

Executive Summary

Madelyn Burley-Allen wrote “Listening: The Forgotten Skill.” This book is definitely a self teaching guide as it resembles a take home textbook or workbook that would be used by an individual focusing on improving his or her listening skills. Many managers have learned how to properly listen to others throughout their career, but few have the skills to listen to themselves as well. This is one of the key points I was made aware of when reading this book. There are barriers to effective listening. These barriers can be internal and external. External barriers can range from distractions to prejudgments or biased listening. Internal distractions such as daydreaming or lack of sleep will lead to a decrease in listening effectiveness.
In addition to external and internal barriers, there are also physical barriers. Physical barriers are internal and include fatigue and the time factor. The next barrier to effective listening is the semantic barrier. Semantics is the study of meaning. These days with such an extensive list of meanings both connotative and denotative, it is extremely likely for individuals to intend a judgment to be perceived other than it really is. With so many different meaning for every word, it is often difficult to communicate how we actually feel. This is truly displayed when communicating through text, for example with email or messages. When an individual is not allowed to hear the tone and perception of a speakers voice, be are being deprived of one of our most important senses. The sensations of hearing an individual explain an environment, ask for a favor, or give a specific recommendation. There is nothing that compares to the ability for humans to hear other communicate with our God given voice and the languages derived from it.

Communication is key, and we must always have an idea of the topic. In addition to exercises, “Listening: The Forgotten Skill” uses self-assessment evaluations. Self-assessment evaluations in “Listening” call for honesty and interaction from the reader. The assessments ask the reader questions such as: how often do you tune out people, do you concentrate when not interested, do you assume you know what they are going to say, do you repeat the speaker in your own summary, do you listen to others point of view, do you look at the speaker, do you daydream while someone is talking, do you form rebuttals ahead of speaking, do you listen for main ideas or facts. This range of questions is meant to give the reader some sort of indication about how effective of a listener they are.

The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from “Listening: The Forgotten Skill”

1. If you’re a skilled listener, more people will remember you. As business leaders in training, we must realize the importance of listening both to others and your self. The more we listen to others, and people realize this, the more people will respect us and give us their attention. Business managers will always have multiple people throwing ideas and suggestions their way, the ability to handle this chaos and sort through it appropriately is what separates good business leaders from greatly ones. Successful managers must be skilled listeners to insure they are respected and heard by colleagues.

2. Listening is a learned skill and involves energy and discipline. Listening is not the same as hearing. We cannot help but hear certain sounds, but when we listen is demands using energy staying disciplined. As young children, we were blessed with the ability to hear what is happening around us. These sounds of wind, air, electrics, and other devices have drowned out our inner feeling. Our society has become use to hearing sounds and not listening to them. Take for instance a cell phone ringer. There are so many people these days with the same cell phone, and I am sure one comes to mind. A public grocery could have a handful of cell phone ringers going off and we just assume they are some one else’s worry. If you listened to everything you heard would you ever have time to listen to yourself?

3. “Listening is taking information in from speakers, other people or ourselves, while remaining nonjudgmental and empathic; acknowledging the speakers in a way that invites the communication to continue; and providing limited, but encouraging input to the talker’s response, carrying the person’s idea one step forward.” Listening is much more than just the sensation of hearing a sound. Listening involves comprehension and concentration.

4. Listening is a way to acknowledge someone and increase self-esteem. When we take the time to voice our humble opinion, and no one seems to hear us it is a blow to our self-esteem and be humiliating. Questioning whether we should repeat what we said again louder, or maybe even questioning whether what we said was reasonable. This feeling of not being heard or not being listened to is a problem in many businesses today. If we realize how much it affects us when we are not listened to, maybe we will begin to listen to others.

5. Effective listening involves not only tuning in to others, but tuning in to ourselves. Listening to our self can help us figure out what are true feelings are. We all have morals and values instilled in us from an early age. Sometimes they are tough to recognize and identify, but if we listen to ourselves, we are sure to hear something we did now already know.

6. Listening to individual employees can help a manager identify personalities of people in the department. A boss who listens encourages growth and career development. Effective listening is less likely to be seen in communication further down the business hierarchy. At the level of the board, listening is extremely effective, as one board member may be able to convey 90 percent of their point across to another board member. 67 percent of the message is conveyed from a board member to a vice president in the company.  Effective listening diminished when the general manger is listening to his vice president he may only understand 57 percent of the point intended. This goes on to the hourly worker who only listens to 20 percent of their manager.

7. Listening can reduce stress and tension. In addition to reducing stress, “the sales people who listen get the sales.” Taking situations into you own hands and influencing the outcome is possible when effective listening skills are utilized. When we truly listen, we are cooperating with the other person and showing respect. We can also gain a more positive view from people we work with when we listen to them. Effective listeners are able to hear valid information. Effective listeners can be powerful in the workplace, at school, and at home.

8. A form of recognition or attention is known as a stroke. A stroke can be negative or positive. Listening is the compliment of strokes when given to another person. An effective listener must learn to deal with many different types of speakers and situations. This is done through practice and eliminating distractions

9. A barrier to listening in our society is speaking, we have equated speaking with mastery and power. Talking is used to gain power, while not speaking to someone is punishment, so in not listening. . There may be barriers that affect communication. Besides internal distractions such as fatigue or time, there are external factors too. External distractions can be the speaker’s volume, mannerisms, or appearance, the setting and temperature, surrounding environment and interruptions, also time pressure and deadlines. Fidgeting, eating, drawing, texting, and skimming though a book are all impairments.

10. Listen to yourself, developing this habit can lead to an understanding of the beliefs by which you live your life. Listening to your self is probably the most important. If we can develop a habit to listen to our self, we will be more aware of why we feel the way we do. Improving the listening to our self can help increase our self-esteem, self-awareness, and also help us understand why we do what we do.

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