VUSSC/Content/Tourism/Applying Effective Communication Skills/Active listening skills

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Listening Skills

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Upon completion of the topic, you will be able to:
  1. Distinguish the difference between “hearing” and “listening”
  2. Explain why listening to customers is crucial to the delivery of quality service.
  3. Identify five (5) steps to active listening

1. Hearing verses Listening

Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. It is one of the natural senses we possess. Some persons are deaf; hence they do not have the sense of hearing. Listening is something you consciously choose to do. Even if you are deaf, the act of listening is a conscious deliberate course of action. It is a deliberate choice to read the hands of the speaker. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words or signs, and sentences. Listening leads to learning.

2. Why listening to customers is crucial to the delivery of quality service

Listening to customers enables you to understand what exactly they want and thereby you will be able to fulfill their want to the utmost details. It is a form of effective communication. Service Quality in tourism is defined as (involves) being attentive to each and every customers’ desires. One of the ways by which they express their desires is through their voice…hence if you listen well, you will be able to know exactly what they need to be happy…which will also allow you to exceed their expectations.

5 Steps to active listening

  1. Focus your attention on the subject. Stop all non-relevant activities beforehand to orient yourself to the speaker or the topic
  2. Review mentally what you already know about the subject. Organize in advance relevant material in order to develop it further
  3. Avoid distractions (sitting or standing by an open window, a talkative neighbor, noise). Seat yourself appropriately close to the speaker. Make eye-contact
  4. Acknowledge your emotional state. Suspend emotions until later, or passively participate unless you can control your emotions
  5. Set aside your prejudices and your opinions. You are present to learn what the speaker has to say,not the other way around

What makes and active listener

The listener must pay keen attention to what the speaker is saying. The listener must then, in his own words, repeat what he thinks the speaker has said. The listener does not have to agree with what he thinks the speaker said, but must simply state what he heard. This will give the speaker the opportunity to check for understanding.

Benefits of active listening

  • It makes people give full attention to the speaker.
  • It avoids or reduces misunderstandings.
  • It gets people to open up, to share how they feel.
  • It allows people to concentrates on the enquiry.