The Art of Listening

Learn How to Develop Your Listening Skills

In 2011 the art of listening is a lost art. A magazine article notes how people in conversations are often not good listeners. It indicated that people keep talking when they should be listening. When they do have a chance to listen, their thoughts are elsewhere, and perhaps even thinking of what they will say next.

The problem is that the article was from the 1960’s. This indicates the art of listening was a problem then and still is. With all our communication advances, it is something we may have neglected.

Learning the art of listening is vital for public speakers. To be a great speaker, you need to be a great listener. For your message to reach the ears of those you speak to, you need to know what they want to hear. Everyone has a job to be done. You can only find out what that is by listening to what your audience is saying prior to preparing your speech.

  • What is your listening efficiency?
  • What is involved in effective listening?

Listening is defined as applying oneself to hearing something. In verbal communication it is to hear while giving attention to what is being said. It is an ability that can be cultivated and practiced into a skill. From this standpoint it can be viewed as an art. As a public speaker, it is an art to be mastered.

Listening Efficiency

    Our listening efficiency can be affected by numerous factors. How much we have on our minds, recently hearing distressing news, and even culture can affect our listening efficiency.

    For both your public speaking and your life, learn to master the art of listening.

    In a test between two groups of 90 and 100 people in Harrisburg PA and Scranton PA, the cultural effects of listening efficiency affected by cultural influences can be seen. To both groups, when greeted with, “How are you doing?” The response was, “Fantastic but I am getting better.”

    In Harrisburg, the group consisted of allied health care professionals including Nurses and Doctors. This is a group you would expect to have great skills when it comes to the art of listening. They were the control group. All but one responded with a positive affirmation of some kind.

    The second group was in Scranton which culturally is more predisposed to complaining and hearing complaints and the testing was at a time of economic depression. The response was empathetic such as, ...I’m sorry, I did not know you were sick....

    There were other related responses. It was interesting that 99% of the responses were of this nature. The one positive affirmation came from a Nurse.

    With so much on our minds between work and home life, efficient listening can be a challenge. The art of listening can be mastered if practiced.

    So what is your listening efficiency? Take a listen and see if you can hear what you are missing.

Effective Listening

Knowing the difference between what is said, what you hear, and what is meant. Effective listening involves four stages.

The Four Stages Of Listening

Sensing The sense of hearing being employed to take in the message.

Our minds have the ability to listen four times faster than a person can talk. One challenge to effective listening would be focusing our minds on hearing what is said rather than the several other things going on in our lives at any given moment.

To improve the skill, look directly at the person talking. As you hear the words said, also start reading the body language. Listen for tone and intonation. With advancement in the art, you will be able to notice even more subtle body language such as pupil movement.

On the flip side, if your taking part in public speaking, your audience will face the same challenge you do with the art of listening. Understanding this will be an aid to developing and improving your public speaking skills.


The processing and interpreting of the message.
Rather than thinking what your going to say next, try to think of what is being said from the standpoint of the communicator. Think of yourself as their advocate and your purpose is to help everyone understand what the speaker is trying to communicate.


Appraising the message. Tap into the filing cabinet of your little gray box on conveniently mounted on the top of your body. First sort and classify what you’re hearing. What are the implications, the applications, benefit or damage of the information?

You will have plenty of time to draw a conclusion. You will only have a few seconds to quickly make a fool of yourself however. So put prejudices aside. Stifle any desire to respond emotionally.

The cliché, consider the source is not only outdated, it could be costly advise to follow. I have worked with numerous nurses aids who for what ever reason choose not to progress beyond their station in the health care field. Some have developed their knowledge and assessment skills beyond that of many nurses. For me personally, when they bring a bit of information to me I take heed.

I cannot tell how many times lives have been saved because of listening to their input.

For future public speaking jobs, it is vital you not only learn about your audience, you need to practice the art of listening on them. Find out what floats their boats. Find out how best to reach them.


Acting on the message.

You will benefit little if you do not act on the direction or advice. A simple credo in this regard, there are three things a true professional does not do when being given counsel or advice. Justify, minimize or shift the blame.

Reasonableness in the art of listening dictates that there is always more to learn on a subject.

If your public speaking is reasonable, it will be easy for the audience to be reasonable in listening to you.

Benefit to You

    Marital problems, family problems and employee-management relationships problems often are the result of break down in communication.

    Not only will improved communication help your relationships, it will help your bottom line. What is the foundation of the information age? Is it not communicating information? Improvement in listening to the wants and needs of customers will increase the ability to meet and satisfy those needs.

    More importantly however, it will enrich your life. How many problems could be solved if we practiced good communication? The Art of Listening is an essential part of Speechmastery and of great communication.

Listening Styles are the different ways people like to listen.

If your speech meets their listening style, you have a better chance of reaching them with your message. This is an essential element of understanding the art of listening and understanding the mind.

How Many Words do men and women use in a day?

This is a great bit of info for your public speaking on the subject of communication. It is especially important to teaching the lost art of listening. The Art of Listening Website

Lets Connect View Jonathan Steele RN Holistic Nurse's profile on LinkedIn
Lets Connect View Jonathan Steele RN Holistic Nurse's profile on LinkedIn
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