When we listen, so many factors affect how we listen and what we hear. Listening takes prominence in our communication skills because without listening we cannot speak well or even understand what others are telling us. There are many things that may make us become ineffective listener. WHAT ARE THEY?
Factors That Affects Listening
The various factors that reduce effective listening include the following
Auditory acuity –Physical loss of hearing may be the cause. Some symptoms of hearing loss involves inattentiveness, moving closer to the speaker, cupping the hand to the ear, turning the head to the side. Others involve speaking too softly or two loudly and asking that volume of electrical appliances be turned up.
Educational level and Background –Research shows that intelligence and educational experience have high correlations with listening ability. Listening involves the processing of information and is affected by one’s ability to organize and evaluate ideas. A broader range of experience provides more reference points. Individuals with wider experiences can more readily associate new ideas with past experiences and thus making what is heard more meaningful.
Emotional and Social Adjustment-People who are preoccupied with personal feelings are unable to concentrate on outside stimuli. Well adjusted and secure people operate from a positive base with fewer emotional distractions to mental processes.
Environment-pleasant surroundings, reasonably free from distractions, make listening easier. A well organised atmosphere suggests a business-like approach and lends importance to hearing. Noise from outside or from within the room may blank out the sounds individuals are trying to attend to. Excessive movement or physical discomfort can also create distractions and make listening more difficult.
Attitude towards listening –The individual’s attitude to listening matters. If the listener believes that what he is listening to will be of use and of importance to him, he will pay more attention and also listen actively. The moment the interest is not in what the individual is hearing, the ability to listen then drops.
Level of difficulty of the material –Listening to easy material holds little challenge to listeners. Unless listening yields new ideas or move treatment of the familiar, the mind is not apt to say at attention very long. On the other hand, material that demands intense concentration or is beyond comprehension also begs for diversion. To be effective, materials must be appropriate to individual’s experiential background and level of cognitive development. This means that listening activities should be based on materials at a comfortable, yet stimulating level that encourages a reasonable cognitive “stretch”.
Speaker’s Voice and Delivery –An animated, well-modulated voice suggests the speaker has something interesting to say, and invites listening. Hesitation, repetition, distracting mannerisms, a monotonous voice and an impersonal attitude are all hindrance to good listening. Individuals should be aware of the speaker’s responsibility to listeners.