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The Role of Effective Listening Skills


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Author: Pragya Priyadarshini
Junior Intern, Niche Advocacy Foundation

On a sweltering July afternoon, I was sitting at this very table in my room and checking WhatsApp and on it was a post shared by my friend about VIP League at NICHE Advocacy Foundation. Curious enough to know more about it, I messaged on the given number, about the details. Very soon, I received a reply with a PDF attached to it. As soon as I opened the PDF, my eyes began searching No prior experience required since I had previously not done any internship. And there it was, the internship that I wanted to apply for. Now, fast-forward to 22 days, i.e., August 12, 2020, the official first day of the internship. So, here I was attending an expert talk with 40 odd interns from different parts of India. After a few days, the ITM short for Intensive Training Module kicked off and what followed it was exciting as well as enervating at the same time. It certainly gave a different perspective and gave insights on what I need to work on.

The ITM was on core emotional fitness skills that I never realised I needed to learn. I have always heard that one needs to have a set of soft skills to complement the hard skills they have. But, unfortunately, our education system does not cater to our need for these skills. As Dandapani has rightly said, People tell us to concentrate, but they do not tell us how to… you cannot expect somebody to do something if you do not teach them how to do it.

The ITM spanned over 12 days. It was prepared in such a manner as to make us aware of the core emotional fitness skills. One of the few sessions to which I connected most was the session on effective listening skills. Of all the skills needed in our life among reading, writing, speaking, and listening, listening is the most underrated yet the most important. Taking together all the years of our formal school training, we spend 12 years learning to write, 6-8 years learning to read, 1-2 years learning to speak, and around 0 to maybe a few hours learning to listen. The possibility of their usage and need in our life in terms of percentage is 9%, 16%, 30%, and 45% respectively. So, the skill that we require almost in every walk of life is the skill that we give the least importance.

So, what is listening? Listening is the act of hearing with thoughtful attention. The session on effective listening skills emphasised intelligent, effective, and active listening. Active listening involves paying attention to what the speaker is saying, withholding our judgements while listening, reflecting on what is being said, asking questions, and then visualising what has been said. It also involves not just listening with your ears but with your eyes and brain, too.

Why be a good listener? Effective listening skills open doors to success. An efficacious leader is the one who listens to the grievances, constructive criticism, and feedback from his/her team members as well as from the public. It is essential to build resilience and to maintain balance in different aspects of our life. A significant number of people seem to avoid the skill of listening. However, communication is never complete without being an effective listener.

In one of the activities assigned during this session, everyone had to ask their family members, relatives, friends, and colleagues to rate them as a listener on a scale of 1 to 5. So, I asked my sister to give me a number and what she gave was quite a low rating. Got an inkling? That’s how much importance we give to listening skills in our lives.

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