Words are a powerful tool. Knowing how we use words to communicate is vital in understanding where it fits into diversity. Saying the right thing or even more important not saying the wrong thing will help you in your everyday life. Through this module we will touch on differences between listening and hearing, and asking the right questions and communicating with power.
Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Assuming an individual is not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. However listening is something that one consciously chooses to do. It requires concentration to allow the brain to process the meaning from words and sentences.
Listening leads to learning, but this is not always an easy task. Adults speak at a normal rate of 100-150 words per minute. The brain, however, can think at 400-500 words per minute, leaving extra time for daydreaming, or anticipating the speaker’s next words.
Listening skills can be learned and refined. The art of active listening allows you to fully receive a message from another person. Especially during a conversation with someone who has a different accent or perhaps a speech impediment. Active listening allows you to be sensitive to the multiple dimensions of the communication that make up an entire message. These listening dimensions include:
Barriers to Effective Listening
In order to listen effectively, one must overcome several barriers to receiving the message:
Communication at Meetings
People from some cultural groups prefer in-person meetings more than other groups. Face-to-Face meetings are more important to people from Africa, East, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East and Arabic countries. Virtual (electronic) meetings work for Latin Americans, and people from Europe, Australia, and North America.
Using an Interpreter
There may be times — especially if you work in an organization with locations around the world – which the use of an interpreter can help overcome language barriers as everyone listens. This reduces frustration with the communication process, and allows participants to stay focused on understanding the messages.
Especially when communicating interpersonally in a diverse workplace environment, good question-asking skills are critical so that the message you are receiving is accurate and complete.
Active listeners use specific questioning techniques to elicit more information from speakers. Below are three types of questions to use when practicing active listening.
Using an open question stimulates thinking and discussion or responses, including opinions or feelings. Open questions pass control of the conversation to the respondent. Leading words in open questions include: Why, what, or how, as in the following examples:
Asking a clarifying question helps to remove ambiguity, elicits additional detail, and guides the answer to a question. Frame your question as someone trying to understand in more detail. Often asking for a specific example is useful. This also helps the speaker evaluate his or her own opinions and perspective. Below are some examples:
Closed questions usually require a one-word answer, and effectively shut off discussion. Closed questions provide facts, allow the questioner to maintain control of the conversation, and are easy to answer. Typical leading words are: Is, can, how many, when, or does. While closed questions are not the optimum choice for active listening, at times they are necessary, and may be helpful when you are interacting with someone who speaks in a different language or who has a speech impediment. Examples of closed questions are:
It’s been said that you have between thirty seconds and two minutes to capture your participants’ attention. In a diverse cultural work environment, this time frame is even more challenging.
In addition to voice characteristics, there are methods you can use to make communication with a non-English speaking person – or a hearing impaired person more efficient and message-effective.
Ten Tips for Communicating With a non- Native English Speaker
Seven Suggestions for Communicating with a Person who is Hearing Impaired
38% of a particular message received by a listener is governed by the tone and quality of your voice. The pitch, volume, and control of your voice all make a difference in how your message is perceived by your audience.
|Pitch||How high or low your voice is||Avoid a high-pitched sound. Speak from your stomach, the location of your diaphragm|
|Volume||The loudness of your voice must be governed by your diaphragm||Speak through your diaphragm, not your throat|
|Quality||The color, warmth, and meaning given to your voice||Add emotion to your voiceSmile as much as possible when you are speaking|
Greg sat down for a meeting with Karnell. Karnell worked at their branch in India and was working at their location for the next few months. While Karnell spoke English fluently, Greg sometimes had a difficult time understanding his wording due to his accent.
Greg kept eye-contact with Karnell. He spoke more slowly and enunciated his words a little more than he would have normally. He exaggerated his expression slightly at times to convey his meaning, but most of all, he was very patient.
At the end of the meeting, Greg asked, “Karnell, please say back to me what we discussed. I want to make sure we’re both clear about our next steps.”
Karnell repeated back what they had discussed. Greg and Karnell both looked forward to their next meeting.