"Seek first to understand than to be understood". This quote from Stephen Covey empahises that in order to have effective interpersonal communication, one has to understand where the person is "coming from".
According to Karen Irmsher in an article "Communication Skills" published in Eric Digest, January 1996, besides the needs shown in Maslow's needs' hierarchy table, Covey observes that "the greatest need of a human being is the psychological survival-to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated". So when we listen carefully when a person is speaking, we are in a fact giving that person a "psychologocal air' thus satisfying the person's vital need. With this, one can then focus on understanding and influencing the person.
In Karen Irmsher article, she stated that good listeners don't interrupt, especially to correct mistakes or make points; don't judge; think before answering; face the speaker; are close enough to hear; watch nonverbal behaviour; are aware or biases or values that distort what they hear; look for feelings and basic assumptions underlying remarks; concentrate on what is being said; avoid rehearsing answers while the other person is talking; and don't insist on having the last word. (Richard Gemmet 1977)
These pointers for effective listening were intensely discussed at a training workshop attended by a group of lecturers of TAR College in Kuala Lumpur. The groups brainstormed, conducted role play sessions as well made individual and group presentation as part of the activities. This module was part of the workshop on Effective Classroom management and Communication held over two days.
It was encouraging to observe the lecturers busy with all the activities set out for them. In fact I was impressed with the interest shown, the steep learning curve of the lecturers and their useful feedback on issues and problems that they have encountered in their work. It is hoped that the knowledge gained and skills acquired have motivated them to be even more effective in their job and also help them in their personal development.