Communications As Its Most Basic Function of Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


As its most basic function of receiving coded messages, listening is a necessary component of communication in the workplace. Without listening, communication is a one-way street; a message is orphaned without an audience. Listening is a critical enough component of communications to warrant its own professional journal, the International Journal of Listening. To listen means much more than to hear, or even to take notes during a lecture, or even to respond. Listening entails a cluster of activities, attitudes, and cognitive states that create conduciveness to communications effectiveness. Listening is the cornerstone of effective communication in any workplace environment, and the most important skill of effective communicators.

There are many different types of listening behaviors, and some are more effective than others in certain situations. Effective communications depend on an understanding of what not to do, as well as what to do to foster listening behaviors. Rester (2012) identifies seven specific listening responses that have been deemed categorically ineffective. These ineffective listening behaviors include interruptions, inserting unrelated comments, focusing on the self, discounting, blaming, evaluating, and giving advice. When one of these types of listening behaviors manifests in an interpersonal interaction in a workplace setting, conflict often arises. The actual source of the conflict can be traced to the ineffective listening strategies employed by one or the other colleague. However, leaders might be unaware that poor listening is a culprit. This is why leaders must create active strategies to encourage listening in the workplace. The strategies to encourage listening could include formal training and seminars on how to develop effective listening skills. Other strategies include timely targeted interventions when employees exhibit unproductive listening behaviors. Creating a collaborative and supportive workplace environment may be the best thing managers can do to ensure that listening is integral to workplace communications.

In organizations with hierarchical structures, listening can be especially important for promoting productivity. Lynch (2011) found that students engage in different listening behaviors when listening to a lecture vs. listening in a classroom that encourages dialogue. While both lecture and dialogue methods are effective for learning, the listening strategies necessary will be different in each scenario. In a workplace with frequent small group or team meetings, employees are challenged to listen to the contextual and subtextual cues of all members. This is especially difficult for domineering members of a team who prefer to talk rather than listen, and who squelch dissenting opinion via subtle or overt intimidation. Leaders need to take charge of each meeting, by observing the body language of shier members of the group. Shier members of the group often have a lot to contribute, and need a supportive and encouraging audience that will listen to ideas in a nonjudgmental way. In large groups, employees will be more engaged in one-way communications in which the speaker issues a report and there may be some time for a question and answer session in the end. Listening in large group meetings entails common sense behaviors like avoiding using smartphone and portable computers except for recording or note taking. One-way communication necessitates note taking, which is essentially a form of listening.

Effective listening strategies include probing for information, feeling responses, and paraphrasing (Rester, 2012). Probing for information means clarifying any misunderstood point. One of the greatest…

Sources Used in Document:


Amsberry, D. (2009). Using effective listening skills with international patrons. Reference Services Review 37(1): 10-19.

Bergeron, J. & Laroche, M. (2009). The effects of perceived salesperson listening effectiveness in the financial industry. Journal of Financial Services Marketing 14(6-25).

Lynch, T. (2011). Academic listening in the 21st century: reviewing a decade of research. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 10(2): 79-88.

Rester, C.H. (2012). Bonnie's problem: using effective listening response. International Journal of Listening 26(2): 75-78.

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