Successful communication is one of the most essential but challenging processes. It is crucial to know some practices and details to communicate easily and effectively. The purpose of this paper is to analyze and explain nonverbal communication and the process of listening. Then, the factors that impede good listening, some helpful practices for improving listening skills, and several types of responses with examples will be discussed.
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Nonverbal communication is the process of sending messages through tactile, kinesthetic, and visual channels. Nonverbal elements seem to be the most significant tools for expressing feelings. The rationale for this is that people are able to control what they say in words and lie. However, only some humans can control their nonverbal language, and its elements can say much more than the person is saying.
There are three types of nonverbal communication, and the first one is body language. In this type, people use physical behaviors to convey and express information or emotions. The example of body language is crossing arms over the chest – the person is being defensive (Mehrabian, 2017). The second type of nonverbal communication is vocal cues – an inflection of a sound like coughing, crying, and yawning, that is used to send a certain message. The last type of nonverbal communication is spatial relations, which is the study of people using their personal space. For example, the distance may change depending on if a person likes someone, and differs from real touching to several inches apart.
Process of Listening
Listening is a process of getting and interpreting information with the help of hearing; it consists of five steps. Receiving is a process of registering sound waves as they hit the eardrum and identifying and interpreting them. Without this step, it is impossible to make all the following. The second stage is understanding; the listeners understand the context and meanings of the words they hear. Its importance is that information has to be interpreted correctly.
The third is evaluating when listeners critically assess the message they get, and this stage defines how good the next two steps will be made. The next one is remembering; it is a crucial moment because the received information may be needed in the following conversations. The final step is responding to what the listener hears, which is essential if a person wants to let the speaker know about his or her interest in the conversation.
Factors Impeding Good Listening
Some factors that impede good listening are the lack of interest, uncomfortable temperature and positions, noise, and intrusion. As for me, the lack of interest is the factor that impacts me the most. It is rather hard to concentrate on listening when I am not interested in receiving that information; so, I start thinking about something else and looking at the watch. All of this impedes my good listening and getting the message from the speaker.
Improving Listening Skills
The practices that help to improve listening skills are facing the speaker and maintaining eye contact, being attentive and relaxed, trying to picture what the speaker is saying and to feel what the speaker is feeling. As I am working on improving my listening skills, I think that trying to picture the information and feeling the speaker’s emotions are the most useful practices. The reason is that it is difficult to get distracted or forget if people experience something themselves.
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Types of Responses
There are two friends, John and Mary; John is telling about his recent trip to Germany, and Mary is so excited that she sometimes helps him finish some sentences. This is an example of the first type of responses – prompting. Then, Mary retells several parts of the story using different words and constructions – this is paraphrasing. When she gets worried or amused, Mary starts thinking aloud and making comments – this is reflecting. Finally, she asks John about some details concerning his trip; this is an example of questioning.
Empathy in Listening
While listening to anyone, it is good to demonstrate interest and involvement by showing empathy. However, there are some difficulties with this skill, as it may not be expressed as intended. The first problem with empathetic listening is that it is not easy to let the other person dominate the conversation and not to seem uninterested in the discussion. Another problem is that a person may want to show empathy by making some comments and expressing his or her opinion but is afraid to seem inappropriate and judgmental.
Principles of Effective Communication
There are three main principles of effective verbal and nonverbal communication that can improve listening and communication skills. Congruence means sending the same information in nonverbal and verbal ways; the speaker learns how to control all the channels of communication, and the listener practices how to get all parts of the message simultaneously (Thompson, 2018).
Individuality is the readiness to express your own opinion, which helps the speaker to be more interesting for other people. Concreteness is about being definite, vivid, and specific; this skill lets the speaker build the speech and be understood correctly.
Effective Feedback Suggestions
There are some suggestions for making feedbacks effective, and the first one is to make sure the response is timely and add context that was while speaking. Also, it is good to involve both the listener and the speaker in the process of feedback. The best suggestion for me is to give the necessary response on time because the situation is still on the minds of both communicators. In my daily communications, I will use this recommendation by answering the e-mails and messages right away, let people know about my decisions as soon as possible, and not make anyone wait for my responses too long.
Mehrabian, A. (2017). Nonverbal communication. London, England: Routledge.
Thompson, N. (2018). Effective communication: A guide for the people professions. New York, NY: Macmillan International Higher Education.