Teaching Communication Skills with Emphasis on Listening

Article Posted in: Research Articles

Teaching Communication Skills with Special Emphasis on Listening

By – Dr John Wesly K, Dr. Chandramouli & M.Rama Priya (introduction at the end), Issue.XXX, Vol.III, July 2017



There is a greater challenge of English language teaching on the teachers today. Whether, it is a school, college, university or any other organisation, community institution. Everyone is interested in learning the language by hook or by crook. Communication Skill employs four Skills which every English language learner should master. Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. This paper gives complete information about communication skills and listening skills in detail. It also brings the barriers of listening skill and how an English learner should be acquainted.

Keywords: Communication skills, Listening skills, barriers etc.


We spend more time listening rather than any other activity. Yet, we listen to only a fraction of our potential. We believe our selves as great listeners but, in reality, we seldom try to improve ourselves. All we have to try to do is to improve our learning abilities, learn how to listen in class and also in life. We need effective listening skills on a larger note. Effective listening skills are the ability to actively understand the information given by the speaker and also discussed. It is also a skill using the many senses to understand the message given by the speaker. This importance given here extends far beyond the academic and professional lives. This communication also extends to day to day lives among families and friends

Effective Communication sounds so simple: say what you mean. But all too often, what we try to communicate gets lost in translation despite our best intentions. We say one thing, the other person hears something else, and misunderstandings, frustration, and conflicts ensue. Fortunately, you can learn how to communicate more clearly and effectively. Whether you’re trying to improve communication with your spouse, kids, boss, or co-workers, you can improve the communication skills that enable you to effectively connect with others, build trust and respect, and feel heard and understood.

Communication is about more than just exchanging information. It’s about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information. Effective communication is also a two-way street. It’s not only how you convey a message so that it is received and understood by someone in exactly the way you intended, it’s also how you listen to gain the full meaning of what’s being said and to make the other person feel heard and understood.

More than just the words you use, effective communication combines a set of skills including nonverbal communication, engaged listening, managing stress at the moment, the ability to communicate assertively, and the capacity to recognise and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with.

Effective communication is the glue that helps you deepen your connections to others and improve teamwork, decision making, and problem-solving. It enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust. While effective communication is a learned skill, it is more effective when it’s spontaneous rather than formulaic. A speech that is read, for example, rarely has the same impact as a speech that’s delivered (or appears to be delivered) spontaneously. Of course, it takes time and effort to develop these skills and become an effective communicator. The more effort and practice you put in, the more instinctive and spontaneous your communication skills will become.

Listening Skill

The teacher job starts when he/she sees that all the students are paying attention to the lesson. They are to be attentive towards the students whether they are listening or not. First let us consider what is Listening Skill?. Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is the key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated. If there is one communication skill you should aim to master, then listening is it.(www.skillsyouneed.com)

Listening is so important that many top employers provide listening skills training for their employees. This is not surprising when you consider that good listening skills can lead to better customer satisfaction, greater productivity with fewer mistakes, and increased sharing of information that in turn can lead to more creative and innovative work.

Many successful leaders and entrepreneurs credit their success to effective listening skills. Effective listening is a skill that determines all positive human relationships. If you spend some time thinking about and developing your listening skills then they are the building blocks of success.

Good listening skills also have benefits in our personal lives, including: A greater number of friends and social networks, improved self-esteem and confidence, higher grades at school and in academic work and even better health and general well-being. Studies have shown that, whereas speaking raises blood pressure, attentive listening can bring it down. Listening is not the same as hearing. Hearing refers to the sounds that enter your ears. It is a physical process that, provided you do not have any hearing problems, happens automatically.

Listening, however, requires more than that: it requires focus and concentrated effort, both mental and sometimes physical as well. Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body. In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages. Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages.

Listening is not a passive process. In fact, the listener can, and should, be at least as engaged in the process as the speaker. The phrase ‘active listening’ is used to describe this process of being fully involved. The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.

Barriers to Effective Listening

To improve the process of effective listening, it can be helpful to turn the problem on its head, and look at barriers to effective listening, or ineffective listening. One common problem is that instead of listening closely to what someone is saying, we often get distracted after a sentence or two, and instead start to think about what we are going to say in reply. This means that we do not listen to the rest of the speaker’s message.

We may also get distracted by the speaker’s appearance, or by what someone else is saying, which sounds more interesting. These issues not only affect you, but you are likely to show your lack of attention in your body language. Generally, we find it much harder to control our body language, and you are likely to show your distraction and/or lack of interest by lack of eye contact, or posture. The speaker will detect the problem, and probably stop talking at best. At worse, they may be very offended or upset.

Lack of focus: You can’t communicate effectively when you’re multitasking. If you’re planning what you’re going to say next, daydreaming, checking text messages, or thinking about something else, you’re almost certain to miss nonverbal cues in the conversation. You need to stay focused on the moment-to-moment experience.

Negative body language: If you disagree with or dislike what’s being said, you may use negative body language to rebuff the other person’s message, such as crossing your arms, avoiding eye contact, or tapping your feet. You don’t have to agree, or even like what’s being said, but to communicate effectively without making the other person defensive, it’s important to avoid sending negative signals.

People often focus on what they should say, but effective communication is less about talking and more about listening. Listening well means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding the emotions the speaker is trying to communicate. There’s a big difference between engaged listening and simply hearing. When you really listen—when you’re engaged with what’s being said—you’ll hear the subtle intonations in someone’s voice that tell you how that person is feeling and the emotions they’re trying to communicate. When you’re an engaged listener, not only will you better understand the other person, you’ll also make that person feel heard and understood, which can help build a stronger, deeper connection between you.

By communicating in this way, you’ll also experience a process that lowers stress and supports physical and emotional well-being. If the person you’re talking to is calm, for example, listening in an engaged way will help to calm you, too. Similarly, if the person is agitated, you can help calm them by listening in an attentive way and making the person feel understood.

If your goal is to fully understand and connect with the other person, listening in an engaged way will often come naturally. If it doesn’t, try the following tips. The more you practice them, the more satisfying and rewarding your interactions with others will become.

Focus fully on the speaker, his or her body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal cues. Tone of voice conveys emotion, so if you’re thinking about other things, checking text messages or doodling, you’re almost certain to miss the nonverbal cues and the emotional content behind the words being spoken. And if the person talking is similarly distracted, you’ll be able to quickly pick up on it. If you find it hard to concentrate on some speakers, try repeating their words over in your head—it’ll reinforce their message and help you stay focused.

Favour your right ear. The left side of the brain contains the primary processing centres for both speech comprehension and emotions. Since the left side of the brain is connected to the right side of the body, favouring your right ear can help you better detect the emotional nuances of what someone is saying. Try keeping your posture straight, your chin down, and tilting your right ear towards the speaker—this will make it easier to pick up on the higher frequencies of human speech that contain the emotional content of what’s being said.

Avoid interrupting or trying to redirect the conversation to your concerns, by saying something like, “If you think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” Listening is not the same as waiting for your turn to talk. You can’t concentrate on what someone’s saying if you’re forming what you’re going to say next. Often, the speaker can read your facial expressions and know that your mind’s elsewhere.

Show your interest in what’s being said. Nod occasionally, smile at the person, and make sure your posture is open and inviting. Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like “yes” or “uh huh.” Try to set aside judgment. In order to communicate effectively with someone, you don’t have to like them or agree with their ideas, values, or opinions. However, you do need to set aside your judgment and withhold blame and criticism in order to fully understand a person. The most difficult communication, when successfully executed, can lead to the most unlikely and profound connection with someone.

Provide feedback. If there seems to be a disconnection what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” or “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back. Don’t simply repeat what the speaker has said verbatim, though—you’ll sound insincere or unintelligent. Instead, express what the speaker’s words mean to you. Ask questions to clarify certain points: “What do you mean when you say…” or “Is this what you mean?” Hear the emotion behind the words by exercising your middle ear muscles

By increasing the muscle tone of the tiny middle ear muscles (the smallest in the body), you’ll be able to detect the higher frequencies of human speech that impart emotion and be better able to understand what others are really saying. As well as by focusing fully on what someone is saying, you can exercise these tiny muscles by singing, playing a wind instrument, and listening to certain types of music (high-frequency Mozart violin concertos and symphonies, for example, rather than low-frequency rock or rap music).


Listening is one of the most important of communication skills. Listening skills are how we hear and receive information and convey our ideas and opinions with those around us. It is important to develop a variety of skills for both communicating to others and learning how to interpret the information received from others. Listening to our audience is the basic key to communication and also knowing, understanding how they need to receive information is equally important as knowing ourselves. To an employer, good communication skills are essential. In fact, employers consistently rank good communication skills at the top of the list for potential employees. Communication skills are necessary for the development of self-advocacy and self-determination, important skills for lifelong success. We have to spend more time listening and less time talking.





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Bonet, Diana. (2004). The Business of Listening: Third Edition. New Delhi: Viva Books.

Dawn Amsberry, (2009). “Using Effective Listening Skills with International Patrons”, Reference Services Review, Vol. 37 Issue: 1, pp.10 – 19.

Morgan, Dana. (1998). 10 Minute Guide to Job Interviews. New York: Macmillan.

Rutherford, Andrea J. (2007). Basic Communication Skills for Technology: Second Edition. Delhi: Pearson Education.

https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-skills.html retrieved on 30th Jan (2017).




Introduction to the Authors:

Dr John Wesly K is an Associate Professor of English, Dept of S&H, Guntur Engineering College, Yanamadala, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. Email: [email protected].

Dr. Chandramouli is an Assistant Professor, Dept of English KL University, Vaddeswaram, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. Email: [email protected].

Rama Priya is an Assistant Professor, Dept. of English KL University, Vaddeswaram, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. Email: [email protected].



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