A few days back I saw a video in which a few people play a message game in which the first person says something in the adjacent person’s ears and the message is passed on till it reaches to the same person standing in a circle.
What he heard was completely different from what he had said.
What he said: “My girlfriend and I are having problems.”
What he heard: “His girlfriend is cheating on him.
Listening to someone is definitely not our priority in communication. Even when you are not speaking, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are listening to them (and here I am not talking about a boring lecture).
Listening is indeed an art. An art we all need to master to become the best version of ourselves. Most of the misunderstandings occur because we don’t listen. Most of the time you listen to what you want to and not what the person is trying to say. Many organizations are taking active initiatives like arranging seminars or introducing audio classes or listening tests etc. to inculcate active listening in kids and professionals.
TBH, I am more of a reader so I haven’t developed a taste in audio books yet. In fact, I kind of got so addicted to reading that couldn’t stop reading English subtitles even in a Hindi movie ( it’s as funnier as watching a Hindi dubbed Hollywood movie lol).
I remember while I was preparing for IELTS (International English Language Testing System), working on my listening skills was my favorite of them all because it not only helps you become an active listener it also exercises your brain to pay attention to details and to memorize different patterns. If you are wondering what my score in listening was, it was 8.5 out of 9-band scale and trust me, it’s very easy!
I didn’t listen to audio books or took any online or offline course for preparing for the exam. In fact, I just listened to the conversations in the practice test set that was complimentary and sent by IDP when I registered for my test.
We all have read about how to become an active listener somewhere or the other but I was unable to follow those do’s and don’t, I mean, they are asking me to maintain eye-contact but not telling me how to do so while not getting distracted ( I used to be really bad at that like so bad that I had to look at the floor or fan or foot of the chair to keep listening to someone seriously and processing at the same time :P).
So, I tried to improve my weak areas differently (because listening to audios is too mainstream).
1. Knowing yourself first
You need to know how much improvement do you need to get better at listening. Here are a few top links that I picked where you can check your ability to listen :
2) Brain Training app
I had this app on my phone that helps in brain exercises name Elevate.
You can download it from google play here. It not only has “listening” as one of its tasks, but also has other activities that help improve other skills like focus, writing, speech, maths, etc. Another similar app that I have used is Neuronation.
Let me know in comments if you have come across a similar or better app.
3) Learning a new language
I know it might seem how it can help you get better at listening to your native language. When I was learning Spanish ( Didn’t I mention in my bio that I am a jack of all trades?) from Duolingo, I not only enjoyed learning something new but also got used to listening to audios carefully.
In their learning process, they use audio of small sentences that you are supposed to listen and type in the given space. Other than that, you can also listen to podcasts. You can download it from here on google play.
4) Audio recordings
For my speaking test preparation, I used to record my audios and listen to them in order to understand my mistakes. And don’t you get surprised when you listen to your audio like is this how I sound? Is that my voice? And you feel like doing it again and again. Listening to yourself is weird but it not only improves your listening but speaking skills as well. I also used to chat using audio messages on WhatsApp. Seriously, learning can never be more fun.
5) Mirror, Mirror on the wall
Again, nobody can be a better judge than you yourself. I know it sounds stupid and I also know you have still done it in your childhood, stand in front of a mirror at least 3/4th of your height so you can properly see yourself in it and just talk! For at least 5-10 minutes, just talk! Either teach yourself something or think your thoughts out loud, doesn’t matter just try to observe your body language, make eye contact, use hand gestures, etc. Trust me, it brings so much of self-confidence and you don’t get distracted by talking to someone as amazing as yourself, I mean come on!
This will help you when you are supposed to talk to people in real life. ( It’s not what I am saying, we all have seen it in movies).
Any of these activities don’t require any other person so you can easily learn alone. Also, you don’t need to listen to long boring audiobooks to master this skill. To become an effective listener is not only important in your personal but also in your professional life. You don’t wanna get fired because you misinterpreted what your boss said as you were busy thinking about your trip to Europe.
Now that I have convinced you that it’s easy to become an effective listener and who are you kidding, you know you need to get better at listening, so just go and practicing these from today itself!
Word of Advice: Somedays I would get so addicted to the apps that I would use them too much to eventually reach a point where I would get bored of it. So, don’t overdo it. Even if you do, it’s okay just delete it for some time and give it a break. As they track your progress, you can always re-install them later. 🙂