Chapter 3, Listening




* listening important to the communication process
* you have a
responsibility to listen well
* better listeners make better speakers

benefits to you:
* could get a better grade in here
* aid in discussions and critiques
* has application to your own speeches

enhanced student experience
        * more effective listening to lectures
        * getting more out of other's speeches


1--SENSING: receiving stimuli through senses

* seeing, hearing, touching, smelling (and tasting)

2--ATTENDING: selecting and focusing on particular stimuli

* our senses are continually assaulted
* we choose which to attend to, which to ignore

3--UNDERSTANDING: making sense of stimuli

* we interpret and evaluate stimuli that has been attended to


* the process of bring back to consciousness that which has been sensed, attended to and understood
* a highly selective process

Problems with sensing and attending

SENSING: impairment of senses
* weak hearing, vision problems


1-- We all have selective perception

* our experiences helps us to decide what to attend to, what to ignore

2-- We all have poor attending habits

* we faking paying attention
* we avoid difficult listening
* we listen only for facts

3-- We all have attitudes and needs that interfere

* as speakers message is heard, we listen through our "field of experience" filter
* we might already have minds made up
* we listen only to what relates to us; our needs

4--Low intensity of message makes attending difficult

* when speaker hard to hear: low volume or lack of projection
* when tone of voice is boring: flat dynamics of delivery; little variety vocally and physically

5--Undue length of message

* Thomas Jefferson said: "Speeches measured by the hour die with the hour."
* we have natural tendency to shorten and compress
* the longer the speech, the more is lost
* the further into the speech the more difficult it is to pay attention

Three problems with understanding


* There's a difference between understanding and agreement
understanding : interpreting and evaluating
agreement: harmonious state of mind, feeling or opinion

What causes lack of understanding?

* different fields of experience
* lack of knowledge on a topic
* misinterpretation
words have no meaning
* experiences with words give them meaning to you
     * knowledge of words and their meanings limited by your experiences


* empathy: ability to identify other's point of view
     * difficult if other's value system different from ours
* when systems are divergent--almost impossible
     * we become
hostile listeners
     * we argue silently, make mental criticism, refute
     * unless you make effort to bridge gap, real listening won't happen


* when you already have mind made up
* we don't want speakers to challenge our preconceived notions
* prevents you from understanding speaker's point of view

Problems with remembering

We forget at alarming rate:

* after 20 minutes: 42% of what we've heard is forgotten
* after 24 hours: 70% of what we've heard is forgotten
* after a month: only 21% of what we've heard is remembered (if we're lucky!)

I recited this to a student in the hallway in a flat, neutral, evenly paced voice and with no special eye contact, facial expression or physical expression:

I recited again to a student in the hallway, but asked them to notice dynamics and take notes--listen for keywords. I made the bolded words stand out with pauses, gestures and expression. I tried to focus their listening to important ideas. I paused between bulleted items

We remember (or forget) according to 3 general conditions
1--conditions under which learning took place
     2--conditions between now and then
     3--physical and emotional states

1- Conditions under which learning took place

* the more rapidly learned, the better remembered
     * burning self on the stove top as a child
distributed practice always better than cramming
* when
organizational pattern evident, we remember better
transference: when new item can be tied to already known fact
acceptance: in our mental set
     * consistent with frame of reference
     * consistent with own motives

Solving these problems as listeners


* bring glasses
* move closer

ATTENDING: 3 considerations
1-- Empathize with speaker

* put yourself in their shoes
* consider their point of view (or frame of reference)
* suspend evaluation
* consider what the speaker is feeling
* try to discover the speaker's motives? agenda?
* what are their wants and needs?

2-- Use your ability to give/get feedback

* involve yourself in the event
* paraphrase to your self; give speaker feedback

3-- Put aside mental sets

* make overt effort to listen beyond your attitudes
* try to discover speakers main and sub points
     * are they supported?
* actively
relate their topic to your life
* participate by
assessing and evaluating their message
* make frequent silent summaries
* set aside personal motives to argue


* ability to listen better (intelligently and accurately) increases with experience


* take keyword notes,
reorganize notes after the speech
* discover speaker's
organizational pattern

Solving problems as speaker

Help with sensing

* control what you can: lighting, seating, noise; use visual aids
* be loud enough
* use appropriate size of gestures and visual aids

Help with attending

* highlight key points
* tie your speech topic to the lives of your audience
* use
vivid examples
* use well developed support materials
* choose a strong organizational pattern
* analyze audience
* establish relevancy
* use suspense, humor
* avoid low intensity message
avoid going overtime

Help with understanding

* remind yourself that message given might not be one received
* analyze and know your audience
* tie your point of view with audience's attitudes, needs, wants
* be aware of how your
field of experiences compares with audience
* illustrate with
* use
visual aids and supporting materials

Helping with empathy

* analyze audience
* put ideas in terms of audience's field of experience
* make yourself credible
* back up assertions with credible evidence
* put polish on supporting evidence
      * make it interesting
      * make it easy to grasp
* pay attention to
non-verbal signals from your audience
* avoid defensive behavior


* carefully deliver your preview statement in introduction and recap in conclusion
* make sure your message is highly organized

* make your organizational pattern clear



Aspects of listening

* hearing is physiological: sound strikes ear drums, sends electro/chemical impulses to brain (passive)
listening: paying attention and understanding (active)

Why is it important?

* we spend more time listening than other communication activities
* you'll get ideas for your speech
* it's your
responsibility as audience and speaker

Listening and critical thinking
What are the four kinds of listening?

appreciative: for pleasure and enjoyment.
empathic: emotional support for speaker.
comprehensive: listening to understand.
critical: to evaluate message; form basis to accept or reject message

Comprehensive listening

* distinguishing main/sub points
* summarizing information
* recalling facts

Critical listening

* judging soundness of evidence
* separating fact from fiction
* discovering weaknesses in reasoning

What are some causes of poor listening?

Not concentrating

* choosing what to listen to from barrage of hearing stimulus

Listening too hard

* missing main points by trying to take all of it in

Jumping to conclusions

Putting words in speaker's mouth

Prematurely rejecting speaker's ideas

* coming into speech event knowing topic is one you disagree with

Why is this a problem?

* no new learning
* no new insights

Focusing on delivery and appearance

* we tend to judge people by how they look and speak
       * shoddy vs. neat appearance: which do you trust?
* Standard American English vs. regional, ethnic dialects
       * does that affect your perception of speaker?

How can you become a better listener?

Take listening seriously

* self awareness--analyze your own shortcomings
* make
commitment to improvement
* good listening an
acquired art
* takes practice and self discipline

Resist distractions

* it's easy to let mind wander; keep focused

Contexts /situations that contribute to the problem

* hot stuffy rooms; overcrowding
* tiredness
* poor acoustics
* noisy environment; audience

What can you do?

* notice when your attention is wondering and refocus
* no need to berate yourself, just refocus
* try to
anticipate; measure message with your anticipation
review message mentally
* make sure you understand it

Listen between the lines

* consider speaker's meaning to his message
* assess nonverbal-vocal messages (
* assess nonverbal-non vocal messages (
body language)
* consider how your meaning may be different
* what are your internal barriers?

The more attentive you are,
the better the chance that the intended message will be the received message

Overcoming appearance and/or delivery diversions

Set aside preconceived judgments of appearance:

* slovenly as well as too pretty or too handsome

Suspend judgment

* hear them out; especially with polarizing issues

Focus your listening

* listen for main points
* pay close attention to the introduction
* listen for supporting evidence--evaluate it

What are four way to evaluate evidence?

sufficiency: is it enough to support main points?
objectivity: are they slanted or biased
accuracy: are facts true?
relevancy: does it really relate to the claim

Listen for speaker's techniques

* how is the speech organized? chronological? problem/solution? etc.
* is the
language considered and appropriate?
* does delivery style augment or diffuse the message?
        --vocal quality
        --physicality and gesture
* what are the speaker's
strengths and weaknesses?
* why is the speaker effective/ineffective?

Note -taking:

Potential problems



* taking everything down; missing information
* ending up with only "tidbits" and not full message

Potential rewards

* general but solid overview of the speakers message

How to do it?

* keep key-word outline: noting main points and evidence
* separate main from sub-points
* approximate speaker's organizational pattern