Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication, without the ability to listen effectively messages are easily misunderstood – communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated. Effective listening is a skill that underpins all positive human relationships, spend some time thinking about and developing your listening skills – they are the building blocks of success.
See our pages: Employability Skills and Customer Service Skills for more examples of the importance of listening in the workplace. A greater number of friends and social networks, improved self-esteem and confidence, higher grades at school and in academic work and even better health and general well-being. Studies have shown that, whereas speaking raises blood pressure, attentive listening can bring it down. Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that: it requires focus.
Adults spend an average of 70% of their time engaged in some sort of communication, of this an average of 45% is spent listening compared to 30% speaking, 16% reading and 9% writing. (Adler, R. Effective listening requires concentration and the use of your other senses - not just hearing the words spoken. Listening is not the same as hearing and in order to listen effectively you need to use more than just your ears.

A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but also to what is left unsaid or only partially said. Effective listening involves observing body language and noticing inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal messages.
Maintain eye contact but don’t stare – show you are listening and understanding what is being said.
Be patient and let the speaker continue in their own time, sometimes it takes time to formulate what to say and how to say it. Don't become irritated and don't let the person’s habits or mannerisms distract you from what the speaker is really saying.
A good speaker will use both volume and tone to their advantage to keep an audience attentive; everybody will use pitch, tone and volume of voice in certain situations – let these help you to understand the emphasis of what is being said. Maybe one of the most difficult aspects of listening is the ability to link together pieces of information to reveal the ideas of others. With proper concentration, letting go of distractions, and focus this becomes easier. We don’t just listen with our ears but also with our eyes – watch and pick up the additional information being transmitted via non-verbal communication. Learn more about the key communication skills you need to be a more effective communicator. Our eBooks are ideal for anyone who wants to learn about or develop their interpersonal skills and are full of easy-to-follow, practical information.

Effective listening and questioning within the 1 day coaching skills programme for middle managers and partners of RLF in 2007 – rolled out 4 times to cover the full partnership (company directors) and for the coaching module of the (ILM Accreditation Pending) Leadership Development Programme. The way people interact and communicate in the workplace has proven to be a key contributor to individual job satisfaction and team productivity. For example, if someone tells you that they are happy with their life but through gritted teeth or with tears filling their eyes, you should consider that the verbal and non-verbal messages are in conflict, they maybe don't mean what they say. Avoid unnecessary interruptions.  These behaviours disrupt the listening process and send messages to the speaker that you are bored or distracted. Our Interpersonal Communication Skills workshop offers all who interact with others the opportunity to assess and develop the effectiveness of their interactions. Participants learn to recognize multiple patterns of communication, identify their style preference and then practice interacting with those who differ in their preferred communication style. This workshop then moves beyond personal interaction styles to assist the participant in discovering the true meaning of the spoken word and the personal barriers often put in place which filters out the complete meaning of the message.

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