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Lee Hopkins consults on social media strategy and is a leading social media consultant in Australia. He understands how it affects business communication. Based in Adelaide, Australia, he consults and speaks around the world on how businesses can use social media strategy and tactics to communicate better for better business results. Types of nonverbal communication: Listening Skills. Communication is defined as a process whereby information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviours.
Human communication is the process of making sense out of the world and sharing that sense with others. The process involves three components: verbal, non-verbal, and symbolic. Verbal communications are the primary communication skills taught in the formal education system and include such things as reading, writing, computer skills, e-mail, talking on the phone, writing memos, and speaking to others. Non-verbal communications are those messages expressed by other than verbal means. We cannot not communicate and even when we don’t speak, our non-verbal communications convey a message. The most important aspects of symbolic communication are the words we use. Words are of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
In other words, we hear what we expect to hear based on our interpretation of what the words mean. The Chinese characters that make up the verb ‘to listen’ tell us that listening involves the ear, the eyes, undivided attention, and the heart. Listening is described in numerous studies as the most prominent kind of communication. It has been identified as one of the most frequent problems in marriage, one of the most important in family and social settings, and one of the most important on-the-job communication skills. Often people think that because they can hear, listening is a natural ability. Listening effectively requires considerable skill and practice and is a learned skill.
Listening skills have been described as either ‘listening with our hearts’ or ‘hearing between the words. Listening is a process that consists of five elements: hearing, attending, understanding, responding, and remembering. Hearing is the physiological dimension of listening that occurs when sound waves strike the ear at a certain frequency and loudness and is influenced by background noise. Attending is the process of filtering out some messages and focusing on others.
Understanding occurs when we make sense of a message. Responding consists of giving observable feedback to the speaker such as eye contact and appropriate facial expressions. Remembering is the ability to recall information. If it is important for you to listen, do everything you can to eliminate internal and external noise and distractions that interfere with careful listening. All of us are guilty of forming snap judgements and evaluating others before hearing them out especially when the speaker’s ideas conflict with our own.