Two Important Kinds of Listening Skills
While you need strategies for listening in class, you will use personal listening skills all through your life.
Listening to Lectures
When you are listening in class or lectures, there is no conversation. You aren’t trying to understand how the other person feels. In class, you are focusing on the content.
What is the lecture about? Could you write a one paragraph summary of the lecture?
What are the main ideas in the lecture? Usually, there are 3-5 main ideas, each with a lot of related information. If you were to write an outline of the lecture, the main ideas would be numbered I, II, III, IV, V, etc. Below each main idea you would use letters A, B.C. D. etc to show the important information related to that main idea.
What ideas or information would you expect on the next test?
For more information on Listening to Lectures
You use personal or conversational listening when you talk with a friend, with a date, with your parents or other family members, with a teacher, with a boss, or with a total stranger.
Sometimes it begins with introducing yourselves. Then one person might say to the other, “Tell me a little about yourself.” Sometimes this person might add suggestions, “What are you studying in school?” “What activities do you enjoy?” or “What are your plans for the future?”
If they ask you such questions, answer them clearly but briefly and ask them questions about themselves.
Conversations with Parents, Teachers, Bosses
In most conversations, the people involved take turns. To be a good listener, take time to answer their questions and turn the conversation back to them. “I’m really interested in what you said about….” or Tell me more about your family… or your summer experience…. or your volunteer work.” A good listener, gives the other person plenty of opportunity to talk. This gives the listener a change to get to know more about the new friend. It will also give the other person a good impression of you. Everyone loves a good listener.
You might ask your parents for something: money to buy something you want.
You might ask your teacher if you can retake a test to make a better grade.
You might ask your boss if you can take time off Saturday for a birthday party.
Many of these conversations end in an argument. The parent, teacher or boss says “NO.” This mean they win the argument and you lose. By using good listening skills, you can prevent an argument. What you want to understand is why they said no, and what it would take for them to say yes.
Start by being respectful. “I certainly don’t want to argue. I respect your decision, but could you explain to me what the problem is?”
Your parents might not have enough money, but might suggest how you can earn some money.
Your boss might already have promised someone else time off on the weekend.
Your teacher never lets students re-take a test, but might let you earn extra credit.
Even if you don’t get your way, your respectful behavior will make them more likely to listen in the future.
Conversations with friends
Most conversations with friends involve talking half the time and listening half the time. But sometimes, you realize your friend really needs to talk. As a friend, you need to be a good listener.
You CAN become a Better Listener…. in class, and in personal conversations.
For more information about how to be a better listener in conversations What is a Good Listener?
For more information about how to be a better listener in class Listening to Lectures