Listening is an important part of being able to communicate effectively. To determine whether you are an effective listener put yourself in the shoe of a colleague who talks to you regularly and respond to the following statements with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’. In fact to be doubly sure about how effective your listening skills are, also conduct this exercise with a colleague who you actually communicate with regularly at the workplace. Request him/her to respond honestly with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’.
1. You feel I pay undivided attention to you i.e., I am not doing something else simultaneously when you talk to me.
2. I do most of the talking even when I am listening to something that you want to communicate to me.
3. When you are talking to me I interrupt often and do not let you finish what you are saying.
4. I maintain eye contact with you most of the time when I am listening to you.
5. I encourage you to talk by responding appropriately with the nod of a head and with small verbal comments like “yes”, and “uh huh”. You don’t have to ask me “Are you listening?”
6. I do not ask you enough questions to clarify and understand what you are saying.
7. You feel I am able to understand your feelings along with the words spoken. I do get you.
8. If something you say does not agree with me, I often get defensive.
9. I am able to paraphrase effectively what you say most of the times and demonstrate to you that I have been listening and have understood most of what you have said.
10. You feel I do change my view point after having heard your views on a subject and having discussed the same at length with you.
Score your responses by giving a point to every ideal response of an effective listener. Similarly score the responses of your colleagues.
The more the ideal responses the better you are at listening. To ensure you have the right assessment about your listening skills, it is important that you have not just answered these questions yourself. The way we perceive our behaviour can be very different from the way we actually behave with others. The difference in the scores between the way you thought others feel about your listening skills and what others actually feel underlines the difference between self-perception and reality.