The Importance of Listening

Nature gave us two ears but only one tongue, which is a gentle hint that we should listen more than we talk.

    “I never learned anything while I was talking.”
    This is a quote that talk show host Larry King says he thinks of regularly while interviewing people.

    “To be attentive means to listen without any interpretation, without any judgment — just to listen. When you are so listening there is no boundary”

    “…through listening, all separation between the observer and the observed comes to an end.”
    - J. Krishnamurti, The Awakening of Intelligence

Listening is the single most important aspect of tutoring. Without it there is no way to know what the tutee needs. It is also a rare and generous gift – to listen to someone – in this media bombarded society.

Students spend 20 percent of all school related hours just listening. If television watching and one-half of conversations are included, students spend approximately 50 percent of their waking hours just listening. For those hours spent in the classroom, the amount of listening time can be almost 100 percent. Think about your own activities in college. Are most of your activities focused around listening, especially in the classroom?
How well do you really listen?

If you ask a group of students to give a one word description of listening, some would say hearing; however, hearing is physical. Listening is following and understanding the sound---it is hearing with a purpose. Good listening is built on three basic skills: attitude, attention, and adjustment. These skills are known collectively as triple-A listening.

Listening is the absorption of the meanings of words and sentences by the brain. Listening leads to the understanding of facts and ideas. But listening takes attention, or sticking to the task at hand in spite of distractions. It requires concentration, which is the focusing of your thoughts upon one particular problem. A person who incorporates listening with concentration is actively listening. Active listening is a method of responding to another that encourages communication.

Listening is a very important skill, especially for tutors. Many tutors tend to talk too much during a tutorial session. This defeats the purpose of tutoring, which is to allow students to discover solutions for their learning needs.

Rather than turning the session into a mini-lecture, tutors must actively listen and encourage their students to become active learners. Giving a student your full attention is sometimes difficult because you start to run out of time, or you find yourself thinking about your next question; however, the time you spend actively listening to your student will result in a quality tutoring session.

Poor Listening Habits
Poor Listeners...
Good Listeners...
Criticizing a speaker criticize the speaker's voice, clothes, or looks. Therefore, they decide that the speaker won`t say anything important. realize that a lecture is not a popularity contest. Good listeners look for the ideas being presented, not for things to criticize.
Finding fault with the speaker become so involved in disagreeing with something the speaker states that they stop listening to the remainder of the lecture listen with the mind, not the emotions. Good listeners jot down something they disagree with to ask the speaker later, then go on listening.
Allowing yourself to be distracted use little distractions -- someone coughing, a pencil dropping, the door opening and closing -- as an excuse to stop listening. filter out distractions and concentrate on what the speaker is saying.
Faking attention look at the speaker but don't listen. They expect to get the material from the textbook later. understand that speakers talk about what they think is most important. Good listeners know that a good lecture may not contain the same information as the textbook.
Forcing every lecture into one format outline the lecture in detail. The listener is so concerned with organization that he misses the content. adjust their style of note-taking to the speaker's topic and method of organization.
Listening only for facts only want the facts. They consider everything else to be only the speaker's opinion. want to see how the facts and examples support the speaker's ideas and arguments. Good listeners know that facts are important, because they support ideas.
Listening to only the easy material think it is too difficult to follow the speaker's complicated ideas and logic.A poor listener wants entertainment, not education. want to learn something new and try to understand the speaker's point. A good listener is not afraid of difficult, technical, or complicated ideas.
Calling a subject boring decide a lecture is going to be dull and "turn out" the speaker. listen closely for information that can be important and useful, even when a lecture is dull.
Overreacting to "push button" emotional words get upset at words which trigger certain emotions -- words such as communist, income tax, Hitler or abortion. Emotion begins and listening ends. hear these same words. When they do, they listen very carefully. A good listener tries to understand the speaker's point of view.
Wasting thought speed move along lazily with the speaker even though thinking is faster than speaking. A poor listener daydreams and falls behind. use any extra time or pauses in the lecture to reflect on the speaker's message. They think about what the speaker is saying, summarize the main points, and think about the next points.

Remember it is important for you to encourage your students to practice good listening skills. One way to accomplish this task is by sharing with them these useful strategies for classroom listening. Active listening is a very demanding skill that requires practice and perseverance. Once learned however, active listening is very rewarding.

Also remember, listening should be fun …

My wife says I never listen to her. At least I think that’s what she said. — Anonymous