There is a difference between hearing and listening. We hear 24 hours a day, but we really, out of those 24 hours, we listen very little. There is more to listening than just hearing. We have to be active if we want to be an effective listener.
Active listening involves four major steps.
• Getting Prepaid Physically and Psychologically: Physically – Get a good night’s rest, keep a healthy diet, and improve your posture. Psychologically – Review the agenda and the issues that will be discussed, and write out some questions you would like to have answered.
• Stay Involved: Take notes, ask questions, share your opinions, offer insight, share information and participate in discussions
• Keeping an Open Mind: The key to effective listening is to listen conscientiously for completeness and not jump to haste generalizations and conclusions. Listen without judgement until all information has been considered.
• Reviewing & Evaluating: This involves two things: Review and evaluate the information and also review and evaluate your performance as a listener. When did you drift off, lose focus, or daydream?
When you listen, make sure to follow these four steps of active listening so that you can know, understand, and are prepared for gathering and interpreting the information given.