Imagine a world where you are the only one talking. If you just read that sentence and feel that it sounds ridiculous, then you’ll surely agree with what I have to say next. That sounds like a monologue that never ends and fails to attract the attention of people sooner or later. This is where the art of listening comes into play. One of the foundations of communication is the art of listening. This is also one of the many skills we hone at each Toastmaster meeting.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines communication as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” So the way you communicate is largely dictated by the person or group of people you are communicating with. The only way you will be able to profile your audience is by what they are communicating. A large part of this communication is established through listening.
For example, if you are speaking to an individual or a group of people and ask a question, what are you trying to achieve? Yes, you are gauging their interest, but you are also gathering valuable insights about your audience in terms of how they react by applying your listening skills. Whether you are giving a speech to a large audience or in conversation with one person, it is important to listen to what they have to say.
The art of listening gives you an understanding of what your audience is trying to communicate. Sometimes this might be a verbal cue, sometimes it might be a non verbal cue, but listening will make sure you are in tandem with their thoughts. Communicating is all about being in sync with your surroundings. Listening provides the vital cues to build on your communication skills through vital knowledge about your audience.
Now, imagine a world where you are talking and listening. That’s a world where you will learn, teach and grow. During my most recent Toastmaster meeting, I was a grammarian and mindful of all things grammar, in the next one I might evaluate a speech and carefully listen to a featured speaker and another role in the future will make me listen to something else. The art of listening is something that I continue to hone at each Toastmaster meeting through the various roles!
TM Kriti Panth
Secretary, Professionals Toastmaster Club
Area O2 CGD