"...Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise" --Alma 37:6

Friday, November 18, 2011


Have you ever been in a phone conversation when the line suddenly goes dead? Do you then, immediately blame the phone company, or do you begin to wonder if the person you were talking to hung up on you/ Have you ever heard the phrase, "Lost in Translation"? When you simply, accidentally switch punctuation, or if a comment comes out wrong, what you are trying to say gets lost. When you don't express your feelings to the one you love, will they ever know how you feel?

As humans, we do not, naturally, communicate well. Some communicate better than others, but the messages still get lost, or skewed. Don't worry, don't panic. Experts have found great ways to enhance and improve our communication. One of the greatest modern technological advancements in the creation of spell-check. This simple invention, when used accurately, has had a freat impact on communication.

But, as I was saying, experts have some tips for us. I am going to focus on the tips for improving our listening skills. Expert Madelyn Burley-Allen (1995) gives four ways to improve our listening skills. She first suggests taking initiative and actively listening. Meaning, look at who's talking, concentrate on what they are saying, watch their non-verbal cues, and try to understand what they are trying to communicate to you.

The second thing Madelyn suggests is to resist distractions. I understand this is easier said than done, but we need to consciously decide to put aside distractions for a while and focus on what the other person is saying.

Some reading this post are thinking, "Yeah, yeah...". One would be surprised at how hard such simple advice can be. I admit that I, myself could use some practice in listening. Continuing, the third piece of advice Madelyn give is to control your emotions. Resist the tendency to butt in and respond to a comment before the other person is finished. We need to hear the other person out completely, and not stop listening to formulate a reply in our heads.

The final, magical piece of advice is to be proactive, ask questions, and rephrase what's been said to clarify the meaning. Clarifying helps to check accuracy, check feelings, and simply shows interest and understanding.

There are many other ways to improve communication. Improving our listening skills is only one step. Be proactive and strive to improve communication between you and others in your life.

Here is a research article for further study:

Burley-Allen, M. 1995. Listening: The Forgotten Skill. 2nd ed.
New York: John Wiley & Sons

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