Listening Competence at Each Stage of the Listening Process

We can develop competence within each stage of the listening process, as the following list indicates:Alice Ridge, “A Perspective of Listening Skills,” in Perspectives on Listening, eds. Andrew D. Wolvin and Carolyn Gwynn Coakley (Norwood, NJ: Alex Publishing Corporation, 1993), 5–6.

  1. To improve listening at the receiving stage,
    • prepare yourself to listen,
    • discern between intentional messages and noise,
    • concentrate on stimuli most relevant to your listening purpose(s) or goal(s),
    • be mindful of the selection and attention process as much as possible,
    • pay attention to turn-taking signals so you can follow the conversational flow, and
    • avoid interrupting someone while they are speaking in order to maintain your ability to receive stimuli and listen.
  2. To improve listening at the interpreting stage,
    • identify main points and supporting points;
    • use contextual clues from the person or environment to discern additional meaning;
    • be aware of how a relational, cultural, or situational context can influence meaning;
    • be aware of the different meanings of silence; and
    • note differences in tone of voice and other paralinguistic cues that influence meaning.
  3. To improve listening at the recalling stage,
    • use multiple sensory channels to decode messages and make more complete memories;
    • repeat, rephrase, and reorganize information to fit your cognitive preferences; and
    • use mnemonic devices as a gimmick to help with recall.
  4. To improve listening at the evaluating stage,
    • separate facts, inferences, and judgments;
    • be familiar with and able to identify persuasive strategies and fallacies of reasoning;
    • assess the credibility of the speaker and the message; and
    • be aware of your own biases and how your perceptual filters can create barriers to effective listening.
  5. To improve listening at the responding stage,
    • ask appropriate clarifying and follow-up questions and paraphrase information to check understanding,
    • give feedback that is relevant to the speaker’s purpose/motivation for speaking,
    • adapt your response to the speaker and the context, and
    • do not let the preparation and rehearsal of your response diminish earlier stages of listening.

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