Have you ever thought about the difference between hearing and listening? We tend to think that hearing a person talk is enough to understand what they’re saying. But hearing is not the same as listening. When someone speaks you hear them, but if you were not listening, you will realize later that you didn’t comprehend what they said. This usually happens because we were distracted and thinking about other matters, or what we’re going to say next. Active listening, an important skill for audio transcription service providers, means focusing on the speaker and understanding what’s being said or the message the person is trying to convey.
Active Listening in the Workplace
Active listening promotes effective listening, and is defined by Wright State University of the People as “actively absorbing the information given to you by a speaker, showing that you are listening and interested, and providing feedback to the speaker so that he or she knows the message was received”.
Strong and effective communication skills are essential in the workplace. Active listening is an important soft skill that promotes good communication. It means concentrating and making the effort to understand what the other person is saying and also responding to show that you are doing so. This is different from passive listening which is one-way communication – listening without reacting or responding when someone is speaking.
Active listening requires:
- Focusing on what’s being said
- Understanding the speaker’s intent
- Not interrupting, but responding or asking appropriate or specific questions when relevant
- Showing concern or understanding by using brief affirmations like “I see”
- Being able to summarize the information
- Considering non-verbal communication such as voice inflexion, tone, body language and facial expressions
In the workplace, active listening helps in the following ways:
- Promotes better communication
- Makes the speaker feel valued and respected
- Builds rapport and good relationships with co-workers and managers
- Wins trust
- More effective team collaborations
- Helps retain information, which is especially important in work meetings and conferences
- Improved individual and team decision-making
- Better productivity
- Boosts creativity and innovation
Active listening allows you to process all information you are presented with and make mindful decisions that you can uphold.
Tips to Improve Active Listening Skills
Here are some tactics to improve active listening at work:
- Focus and give your full attention to what’s being said. Turn off your own thoughts.
- For full clarity and visibility, ensure engagement with follow-up questions when relevant.
- Avoid multitasking (texting, checking emails, reading, etc) when someone is speaking.
- Take time to recall the conversation, especially the main points.
- Offer answers in the form of verbal and non-verbal cues (smiling, head nods, and comfortable eye contact).
- Paraphrase: Rephrase what was said using your own words – this will show that you were listening.
- Be mindful of your posture by leaning forward slightly and showing great interest in the talk.
- Be non-judgmental. Keep your mind open to what the person is saying and provide feedback only after the person has finished speaking.
- Don’t interrupt – wait for the speaker to finish talking before commenting or asking questions.
- When listening for a long period, focus on and remember keywords and phrases.
- Empathize – put yourself in the other person’s place.
Active Listening: A Key Skill for Audio Transcription
Active listening is a basic skill for transcriptionists. Effective listening is necessary to understand the recorded audio and video and transcribe it accurately. Transcriptionists need excellent listening skills to handle audio recordings with multiple speakers talking over each other, difficult accents, technical jargon, and background noises. Close attention to detail and listening to the recordings multiple times if often needed to understand the gist of the recording.
For example, take legal transcription which covers a wide range of subjects. Legal transcriptionists should have excellent listening skills as lawyers often used the documents they produce to prepare for trials and may also use them in court. In addition to being familiar with legal terminology, procedures and systems, outstanding active listening skills are needed to accurately transcribe digitally recorded courtroom proceedings, interviews, interrogations, depositions, meetings, etc. and avoid ambiguities and inaccuracies. In fact, legal transcription errors can have negatively impacted a case and prove really costly. That’s why law firms now prefer to outsource their transcription tasks. Reliable digital transcription agencies have the manpower, technology and other resources essential to provide accurate documentation of legal proceedings.
Listening is vitally important both in the workplace and home in today’s world where we juggle virtual personal and working environments with in-person interactions. “Empathy allows you to understand your colleague’s perspective and needs which is critical for successful collaborations,” says Dr Susan Birne-Stone, a therapist and coach (www.forbes.com). Active listening demonstrates greater empathy, which is a much required soft skill in the workplace.