Listen up! – Part 1

Listening is an important skill that not many can say they are perfect at.

Youth enjoy action. They like to meet people, go places and have new opportunities. By using a variety of methods to teach project skills and knowledge, youth will be more active and interested learners. Research has shown that young people learn best by doing. “Learn by doing” is a basic concept in 4-H that Michigan State University Extension supports.

How youth learn varies by the method. Youth retain 10 percent of what they read. Young people generally retain 30 percent of what they see and about 20 percent of what they hear. The best practice is to give young people a chance to explain in their own words what they have heard. By discussing the topic they will retain more of the content.

Our communication does matter. Active listening is critical to receiving the message of the speaker. The percentages assigned when receiving conversations are:

Seven percenet to the words spoken

  • Thirty-eight percent to the tone of voice
  • Fifty-five percent to the body language

On the telephone the percentages are:

  • Fifteen percent is the words spoken
  • Eighty-five percent is the tone of voice used

Try this short listening quiz.

Read each question carefully. Answer each question with a “yes” or “no” according to your usual behavior. Go with your first thought, do not try to “second guess” the question.

  1. Science says you think four times faster than a person talks to you. Do you use the excess time to turn your thoughts elsewhere while you’re keeping general track of a conversation?
  2. When someone is talking to you, do you try to make them think you are paying attention when you are not?
  3. Are you easily distracted by outside sights and sounds when you are listening to someone?
  4. When you are puzzled by what someone says do you try to get the question straightened out immediately?
  5. Do you find certain words, phrases or ideas so prejudice from the speaker that you cannot listen objectively to what is being said?
  6. Do you listen for facts rather than ideas when someone is speaking?
  7. If you feel that it would take too much time and effort to understand something do you go out of your way to avoid hearing about it?
  8. If you want to remember what someone is saying do you think it is a good idea to write it down as they speak?
  9. Do you turn your thoughts to other subjects when you believe a speaker will have nothing interesting to say?
  10. Can you tell by a person’s appearance and delivery that they won’t have anything worthwhile to say?

If you answered “no” to every question, you are a rare individual, the perfect listener. Each “yes” answer indicates you are guilty of a specific poor listening habit. Remember the old adage, “good listeners are silent partners!”

Many times adult leaders talk too much. Give young people the opportunity to explain and discuss what is presented. Every leader should give as much responsibility as possible to youth members. The more they do for themselves, the more they will learn.

Related Events

Related Articles

Related Resources