Improving listening is largely a matter of mental willful act. Listening is the act of receiving, decoding and attaching the meaning of the spoken words of others. Since listening is a mental willful act its improvement depends on mental determination. If the listener has firm determination to listen the speech attentively it is possible to listen and thus understand the oral message of others. However, the following are general guidelines for improving the listening ability:
Deciding to listen well: Improving quality of one’s listening ability depends on his or her firm determination to listen well. If we have interest on the speakers spoken words, we become mentally inclined to the message and listen to the speaker attentively. Thus to be a good listener it is required to develop mental inclination to speaker and his spoken words.
Paying attention: After deciding to listen well, it s necessary to pay complete attention to the words spoken. Attention depends on the receiver’s mental makeup, disciplined thinking ability, knowledge on subject etc.
Thinking from the reader’s viewpoint: To be a good listener it is require to try to think as the speaker, judging the speaker’s words as the speaker’s knowledge, experiences, viewpoints and such.
Trying to remember consciously: Good listening requires conscious efforts for remembering the words heard. Though human mental retention power is limited, it is possible to improve such mental power by hearing the speaker’s words attentively and consciously.
Evaluating the Speech: Because listener’s thinking is faster than speaker’s talking, there is enough time on listener’s hand for evaluating what is being spoken and the facts presented for supporting the main theme by the speaker. comparing these messages and facts with those of listener’s knowledge, the listener can evaluate the speakers speech. The process of such evaluation can contribute to the effective listening.
Taking Selective Notes: The listener can take some important notes from the speaker’s speech for subsequent review and use as future reference. But if the listener tries to record everything of the speech, he may loss many important facts. Therefore, it is recommended to take notes only the main ideas, key words, important facts or reference of the speech. These note taking efforts of the listener will obviously increase the quality of listening.
Avoiding forming an opinion too quickly: The listeners should not form any early opinion on the speaker’s ideas. Rather they should carefully listen to the speaker, let him finish the topic, judge the speaker’s ideas, identify the speaker’s logical bread down and then comment on the speech.
Increasing the vocabulary: Hearing an unfamiliar word can be very disturbing and sometimes irritating. For avoiding such a situation one should develop his vocabulary. For increasing vocabulary the listener should make a lot of the unfamiliar words and look them up in the dictionary as soon as possible. As the vocabulary grows there will be fewer unknown words and irritation.