Effective listening skills are a valuable part of high school or college communication courses. Strong listening skills make it easier to understand complex concepts, remember important facts, and interact with classmates and teachers in constructive ways. Even though communication courses require talking and observation, listening is an ideal way to pick up subtle cues that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Tune Out Distractions
An important tips to develop good listening skills for communication courses is to tune out distractions. You can’t successfully remember information if you are texting, thinking about other classes, or making weekend plans. You must give the instructor, speaker, or teacher your undivided attention. Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. Ignore cars and students who are bustling on the streets or in the hallways outside your classroom, avoid side conversations with classmates, and disregard classroom noises such as the buzz of overhead lights, the hum of air conditioning units, and the rustling of paper or notebooks.
A positive listening exercise is to demonstrate affirmation. You want your instructor and classmates to feel that they are important and worthy of your attention. Eye contact is an ideal way to show your interest and approval. You might nod positively and smile or lean forward in your seat so the speaker feels a connection with you. Eye contact and other positive, nonverbal cues also reduce the likelihood that you’ll get distracted by outside factors.
Practice Active Listening
Effective listening skills require active listening. Active listening requires a conscious effort to hear the words that another person is saying and understand the complete message that is being sent. You can practice active listening by acknowledging everything your teacher or classmate says before crafting a response. You might jot down relevant questions that you plan to ask once the teacher opens the topic for discussion. Polite listeners don’t interrupt when someone is speaking, and they avoid making judgments or comments that could be viewed as offensive, rude, or disrespectful.
A beneficial listening technique is to paraphrase what your professors or classmates say. Paraphrasing forces you to listen intently so you can repeat back in your own words exactly what the person said. This listening practice helps you verify that the message was received correctly. When you paraphrase, you can’t speculate, anticipate what the speaker will say next, or give your personal opinion. You simply restate the information to confirm its accuracy and cement the material in your mind.
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