VUSSC/Content/Tourism/Applying Effective Communication Skills/Listening skills

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Listening Skills

Conversation is a great way to dialogue or share information, but it is crucial that the receiver decodes the information. In order to decode information or have effective communcation, listening is critical.

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.

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"Chinese Auction"


  • Create a circle with at least six persons.
  • Have the first person whisper clearly a short message with the person to their right
  • Messages can be said only once. There can be no repeating of messages. once it is shared. There can be no gesturing or noise to veify the message (if it is correct or incorrect)
  • The message is passed from the second person to the third, until all the persons in the circle received the message
  • When the sixth peson has received the message, the message he/she recieved should be voiced openly.
  • The message the sixth person reveals, should be compared with that from the first.


  1. Is the message the same or different?
  2. What caused the message to be the same or different?
  3. Explain four ways that you could improve your listening skills?

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 an 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.

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Self Assessment

* Listening is one of the most important communication skills. Complete the checklist below to determine whether you are an active listener, by circling your choice.

1. When I am listening, my mind often wanders. YES NO

2. I am usually able to listen attentively to a person speaking for a period of time, for example, fiften (15) minutes, and not switch off. YES NO

3. I am usually able to concentrate fully on what the speaker is saying despite distracting noises and movements. YES NO

4. When I am listening, I often decide what to say in response before the speaker has finished talking. YES NO.

5. I find it difficult to ignore past experiences and prejudices when listening to someone. YES NO

6. I usually paraphrase and verify what the speaker has said to check my understanding of the message. YES NO.

7.I usually ask questions if I am not sure what the speaker meant. YES NO.

8.I can usually understand how people are feeling through their non-verbal communication. YES NO.

9.I usually inform the speaker that I understand how he/she feels. YES No.

10. I sometimes find the speaker`s appearance and personality influences me so much, that I am unable to give my free attention to what he/she is saying. YES NO

Results: See which answers you responded to negatively and seek ways to improve on them.