The Importance of Active Listening

by | Aug 19, 2021

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Listening, while considered one of the most significant communication tools in Construction Partnering Sessions and in general, is widely underutilized, misunderstood, and neglected. It’s not that we as conversation participants mean to ignore what others are saying, but rather we commonly possess the following compulsive urge. While in conversations, meetings, and the like, rather than consciously or actively listening to the other person, many of us subconsciously wait for our turn to speak. We commonly use the time the other participant is relaying information to us to formulate an answer and have it at the ready. The reason for this could be that a typical person can speak 125 words-per-minute, yet we can process up to three times faster, reaching as much as 500 words-per-minute, (Listening: Three A’s of Active Listening). As a result, a poor and impatient listener is not present in the conversation. This is where active listening comes into play. Active listening is the conscious choice to maintain an open mind and discern the other person as the central speaker, then in turn demonstrate listening through nonverbal cues. 

During our virtual sessions, our Partnering Facilitators highly encourage their project team members to keep their screens on. By doing so, the team nurtures an environment of effective communication and active listening, since we are now able to see each participants’ nonverbal cues and they in turn make a conscious effort to show that they are listening. Studies have shown that over 93 percent of communication is made up of nonverbal cues, which include hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions. Consider a scenario where you are speaking in person to a friend or colleague, and the other person is on their phone, looking away from you, or showing no signs of interest while you are relaying an important story. The supposed listener in this example is not using facial expressions, eye contact, or hand gestures to demonstrate they are listening. In the position of the speaker, most of us would probably feel that the other party either is not interested or not even listening at all. Either way, this would likely discourage the speaker from further sharing their thoughts. Now apply this to a virtual session where your screen is off while someone is addressing you or vice versa. This would foster the same feelings of discomfort and likely make the speaker feel that their thoughts are unwelcome.

By simply encouraging that our participants simply keep their screens on, we set the foundation for an environment of collaboration, trust, and partnership. If you are interested in learning more about our services or partnering with our facilitators, please visit us at gla.world and click on “Contact Us.”

Reference

Listening: Three A’s of Active Listening. Lumen. Retrieved July 27, 2021, from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/ivytech-comm101-master/chapter/chapter-4-three-as-of-active-listening/

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