Children's hearings training resource manual: volume 2

Volume 2 is a children's hearings handbook, focusing on the problems that some children face, the environment in which they live, their needs and their rights.

7 Listening

Listening is basic to all effective relationships. It is the listener, not the speaker, who controls the conversation. It is a skill. Good listeners get listened to. It is not the same as hearing what someone has said. It is possible to hear, understand but not really listen.

In active listening the listener uses various senses:

  • listens with the ears to the words spoken/tone of voice
  • listens with the mind to understand the message
  • listens with the eyes to the body language/posture/bearing/gesture
  • listens to him/herself and notes own reactions to the messages received.

Listening is quite different from ordinary conversations and requires full attention and concentration. If the words spoken do not match the behaviour then it is important to check this out e.g. 'Although you have told us that you will do, Mrs X, I have the impression that you are not very happy about it. Perhaps you could help me understand?'

People can show that they are listening by:

  • nodding
  • smiling (where appropriate)
  • looking at people when they are talking to them
  • prompting by saying e.g. yes, mmm.
  • mirroring back key points of what has been said - summarising
  • reflecting back feelings as well as ideas
  • checking out what has been said.

Problems of listening

Generally when people listen they only do so to the middle of the statement. Before the speaker has finished delivering the message, the listener has already begun to formulate an answer. This means that the end of the message is missed and the listener may even finish off the sentence for the speaker. People's previous knowledge and expectations may lead them to hear only what they expect to hear - the message is frequently reduced by eliminating detail. People listen selectively.

The listener may have a hearing problem which may lead to speech not being heard or may be misheard. It is always important to look directly at a person when speaking to them and take care with the rate of speech.

How much information can be held for processing will vary from person to person. The average person aged eight and over can remember and repeat back six and seven numbers. A large number of children and adults can only remember about three or four.

If people have a poor auditory memory then not all the information will be processed and sometimes because of overload everything may be 'lost'.

It is important to keep sentences short and uncomplicated.


Back to top