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Effective LISTENING Skills


Guest articles > Effective LISTENING Skills


by: Viganesh Kumar

Why active listening is critical in business? Most of us tend to hear rather than LISTEN. Listen shows that you are serious and committed in acquiring and confirming the information. Paying attentive listening proves significant as an ability to understand thoroughly the defined meanings, understood the read lines clearly and enables to relate to with the speaker. We may have encountered poor listening habit which contributes to repetitive of tasks, poor quality output, customer’s dissatisfaction, wrong interpretation and waste of raw materials. How does a poor listening skill affect the overall operation?

Several times when I order the required food and beverages at Mamak restaurants, there is bound to be a mistake. I ordered Tea but the waiter shall bring Ice Tea. One of the key weaknesses I noticed in a Mamak restaurant is their waiters shall take order without jotting down in their order record. Another incident related to poor listening skills was with Astro. I called their customer care line to inform the defects on the decoder due to lightening. Their customer representative had wrongly inserted my address and I had to wait up to 10 days for a new installation. Worse I had to call them every day to find out what went wrong. They only found it out one the 9th day that the address was inserted wrongly. My colleague who works as Quality Manager stated that his newly recruited foreign operators from Bangladesh had caused a delay in customer delivery. According to him, his supervisors had carried out the wrong instructions in their operation. The situation fused further as the foreign operators had poor understanding, language barrier and poor listening skills that resulted repetitive of tasks, time and cost. Poor listening occurs at top level management too. A friend of mine who works as a Project Manager communicates with his fellow employees at India's manufacturing plant through video conferencing. He claimed that if new points were highlighted, his counterparts hardly shall take any notes. He even voiced it out several times but his counterparts would normally reply by stating that the information is well stored in their memory. However after some time their output may missed out several details that was initially discussed through video conference. Few years back, when our company did its annual dinner at a hotel, we clearly explained that the food must not contain beef. The hotel’s sales staff noted the on the confirmation but it was still served along the food on the occasion. The sales staff apologized and stated there was a miscommunication between the event and kitchen department that resulted the embarrassment.

Most of the poor listening skills occur in an organization because of several employees’ attitude who takes things for granted. Our memory is always considered as an excellent tool to store inputs but it may not be the most effective one. The management should always ensure their employees are given the right tips of improving their listening skills. Below I inserted a simple key technique for ensuring effective listening skills.

  • L : Look Interested
     - Create a positive image on caller’s mind that you are interested
     - Be attentive and maintain eye contact
  • I : Inquire
     - Ensure you get the whole story by clarification and use questions to assist your direction in conversation.
     - Use notepad, note books or sticky notes to record important points
  • S : Stick to the point
     - Stick to the point by stating your purpose
     - Adhere to prepared agenda
  • T : Test your understanding
     - Before you move on to the next topic make sure you have understand.
     - Ask questions for clarification
  • E : Evaluate the message
     - Analyze what has been said to you
     - Double check any outward modifications
  • N : Neutralize your feelings
     - Keep open mind, be patient and tolerant
     - Avoid pre conceptions and suspend immediate judgment
     - Do not interrupt

According to Richard Branson through his article The Art of Asking Advice, he claimed that listening skills are essential in problem-solving. He stated that when he was a giving a talk in Greece 20 years back, an individual kept on asking him excellent questions. Richard Branson noticed that this particular audience had LISTENED intently to understand all the responded queries. Richard Branson claimed that this particular individual had shown the drive to succeed and it was meant to be too. The referred individual was Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who later became the founder of low cost airlines ‘easyJet’ and have ventured to other travel and leisure related business. Imagine how valuable the information has been for Stelios Haji-Ioannou during the queries with Richard Branson. He could have asked questions but if he did not emphasize effective listening skills, how sure it would have back tracked his strategic references.

Listening is a significant skill that ensures the effectiveness of job, department functionality, clear instructions, smoothness of operation, conflict resolution, motivating employees’, decision making and enhancing customer relationship. Employees’ needs to practice their listening skills through the right techniques and their superiors should always emphasize its importance. It is not how we are engaged with listening but gaining the ACCURATE information through effective listening skills.



Viganesh Kumar, a HRDF approved consultant, trainer and lecturer in the fields of Management, Operation and Hospitality. A Human Resource Strategist with distinctive career and has provided consultancy & training for over than 200 organizations in various industry.

View his complete profile.

Contributor: Viganesh Kumar

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Classification: Development



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