7.1.0: The Importance of Listening
Listening is the learned process of receiving, interpreting, recalling, evaluating, and responding to verbal and nonverbal messages. We begin to engage in the listening process from infancy, long before we engage in any recognizable verbal or nonverbal communication. In general, listening helps us achieve all the communication goals (physical, instrumental, relational, and identity) that we learned about in Chapter 1. Listening is also important in academic, professional, and personal contexts. In terms of academics, students with high scores for listening ability have greater academic achievement. Listening skills are highly sought after by potential employers, consistently ranking in the top ten in national surveys (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2010). Listening also has implications for our personal lives and relationships. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of listening to make someone else feel better and to open our perceptual field to new sources of information. Listening can also help us expand our self and social awareness by learning from other people’s experiences and by helping us take on different perspectives.