Professional Communication ZAA 106

Week 3 - What is active listening

Introduction to listening - please watch the welcome only

Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others.

As your skills and understanding develop, you will be realising that good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness and one of our aims throughout this course is to help you develop deeper personal insight, as well as a strong communication skill base.

Our content for the next two weeks is on the extremely important topic (and skill) of listening. Something we do all the time, but not necessarily as well as we might.

Why do we listen..?

• We listen to obtain information. • We listen to understand. • We listen for enjoyment. • We listen to learn.

Given all this listening we do, you would think we'd be good at it! In fact most of us are not, and research suggests that we remember between 25 percent and 50 percent of what we hear. That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers or spouse for 10 minutes, they pay attention to less than half of the conversation. Not so great is it!

Turn it around and it reveals that when you are receiving directions or being presented with information, you aren't hearing the whole message either. You hope the important parts are captured in your 25-50 percent, but what if they're not?

Clearly, listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By becoming a better listener, you will improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. What's more, you'll avoid conflict and misunderstandings. All of these are necessary for personal and professional success!

To begin our topic for this week, I’d like you to read the information and take the quiz contained within this link. Try to answer the quiz as honestly as you can (!) as that will give you the best insight into areas you can begin to work on. ** Please note that one of the reflective questions (following) links to the outcome of the quiz. Please read the two questions before commencing the quiz.

After completing the quiz, I’d like you to answer these two reflective questions:

1. Take a minute to consider your own degree of active listening skills. Would your family, friends or work colleagues describe you as a good listener? Why or why not?

2. Review your responses in the quiz. What areas do you think you could work on to improve your listening skills? Name two (2) areas and make a concerted effort to be mindful of trying to improve these skills this week.

Now, we’re going to move into some thought-provoking video content to expand our understanding of both active listening and the challenges of listening in today’s world of distraction.

Firstly, please watch the following tutorial on Active Listening and take notes of the key information. This video presentation is more on the ‘theory’ of what active listening is.

The second part of the video content for this week is looking at some of the issues that are ‘around’ Active Listening. There are suggestions on skill development but there is also information on the challenges of distraction and the skill of listening to conversation. Enjoy!

10 Ways to have a better conversation | Celeste Headlee | 11:44 mins

Active Listening | Katie Owens | 1:03 mins

Improve your listening skills with active listening | 2:39 mins

The last clip in this series is by Julian Treasure. Please listen and make particular note of his last suggestion – (the acronym RASA) for having a better conversation. After the clip, please answer the reflective questions following.

5 ways to listen better | Julian Treasure | 7:50 mins

This short reflective exercise is to begin to prepare you for Assessment TWO.

As we move through the content on listening, there will be more structured listening skills introduced, but for now, we are learning the foundation skills of effective listening

1. As introduced in the clip, what does RASA stand for? Write yourself a clear note so you can use it as a prompt for the next exercise.

2. Over the next week, take the time to sit down to have a conversation with two different friends. In these conversations, your job is to LISTEN and use the acronym RASA as your guide for active listening. Using RASA is our introduction to practicing active listening skills – the first step in a learning process.

Invite your friends to discuss something they are comfortable to talk about and focus on listening actively and using the behaviours/skills that the RASA suggests.

3. At the conclusion of the conversation, ask your friend for feedback on:

a) Were you able to maintain positive facial expressions and eye contact?

b) Positive and congruent body language?

c) Summarising what they had said

d) Asking questions?

4. After each conversation, please take the time to answer these questions that look into your own responses:

a) How was this process for you? Was it easy/hard? Did it feel natural or very foreign? Why?

b) What is something that you think you did well?

c) What is something you want to be more mindful of next time?

What is Reflective Practice?

Now, the second piece of assessment is approaching and I would like to use this opportunity to introduce you to how to write a reflective piece. The two clips following present a really good insight into how to start writing a reflective piece. It is very important to understand how reflective writing works, as it is likely quite a different style from anything you may have completed previously.

Reflective Writing - A very brief guide | 50 secs

Reflective Writing | 6:07 mins

Lastly, here is the document that I mentioned. Only the first two of three pages are relevant to us, but it while a little informal, it contains some ideas of sentence starters that are appropriate to reflective writing.

Using the techniques that are presented in the information above, undertake the following exercise. Use the following sentence starters and begin to develop your reflective writing skills on what we have completed so far. Please complete 2-3 sentences for each ‘start’.

1. I was really surprised at….

2. One thing that I didn’t expect was…

3. Initially I thought…… but …….. has changed my opinion.

4. If I had the opportunity again I would…..

5. One view/skill I have changed is…… and the benefit I can see from this change is…

Use this exercise as practice for the assessment exercise over Weeks 4 & 5.

Conclusion | Anja Boot | 2:45 mins

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