This paper will concentrate on identifying active listening strategies, which are a vital element in interpersonal communication. This topic was chosen because most people try to dominate conversations, even when they do not really intend to do so. People are constantly interrupting one another, and they are often thinking of what they are going to say next rather than truly listening to what the other person has to say. The problem with this is that people thus fail to learn about what others are thinking and trying to say. They do not get the understanding, insight, and other rewards that come with good communication and meaningful relationships. To overcome this problem, people need to learn to go against their natural tendency to talk without listening.
In order to understand active listening strategies, it is necessary to first define some key concepts. For example, â€œlisteningâ€ is different from â€œhearing.â€ Hearing is the simple, physical act of picking up sounds in the environment. Listening, by contrast, requires being sensitive, paying attention, and caring about what other people are saying. As claimed by Boyd (2001), listening is â€œactive, not passiveâ€ (p. 60). Various studies have shown that people usually do not listen as well as they could. In one survey, for example, 28 percent of business executives felt that listening skills were lacking in their workplaces, even though 80 percent of the same executives said that such skills were the most important skills for their workers to have (Salopek, 1999).
â€œDialogueâ€ is another important concept that relates to active listening. As defined by researchers at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), dialogue is a type of interpersonal communication in which people â€œsuspend their defensive exchangesâ€ and seek to â€œestablish a field of genuine meeting and inquiryâ€ (Isaacs, 1993 ). When a true dialogue occurs, all of the people involved find...