A few weeks ago, I was at the Ultimate Billiards. I decided this would be a great place to practice my exercise of non-verbal listening patterns. I noticed my friend Vanessa, whom I’ve known for ten years. We talked for an hour about family and friends. Later that evening, I met Sue, whom I’ve known for three months. Our conversation, thirty minutes in length, consisted of critiquing the other players, discussion of rule fairness, and tournament requirements. In describing specific examples of my nonverbal listening behaviors with Vanessa, I observed I was standing upright and feeling comfortable. My eye contact was direct as I was interested in the conversation. I found myself smiling. I behaved in these ways because pool is my hobby of choice and it was easy for me to enjoy the conversation. In reviewing my non-verbal listening, my behavior was appropriate given what I learned. Specifically, my non-verbal was consistent with gestures shown in a conversation when there is a genuine interest, agreement, and likability. In my non-verbal listening exercise with Sue, I found I was struggling. I was limited in full range of conversation, due to rule constraints.
Specifically, she was not supposed to be talking to me. I found myself trying to be polite; however, I limited my gestures, as not to distract the players. My body posture was stiff, although I did smile politely to let Sue know I acknowledged and heard her. I found that my behavior was inappropriate for that conversation, but I was concerned about the rules. Given what I have learned, I was not practicing a full range of listening skills that would give the signal I was fully interested During my conversations with Vanessa and Sue, I discovered three non-verbal listening behaviors and/or skills. I noticed that I use gestures, as I listen. For instance, I lean forward, I nod my head appropriately, and I smile in agreement that I’m tracking what is said. While the just mentioned are my strong skills, I did notice a weak behavior. Specifically, I found myself distracted by the rule constraints.
As a result, I found myself losing eye contact with Sue and I was looking around and away more often than usual. In looking back at my strong and weak listening behaviors, I want to maintain my strong skills and improve my weak skills. I can maintain my strong skills by practicing these skills. I can improve my weak skill by becoming more aware of them. My reaction to the activity of non-verbal listening patterns was surprisingly enthusiastic. I was encouraged that some of the learned listening skills came natural to me. The exercise also enhanced my knowledge and awareness of other people’s non-listening gestures. I now put more emphasis on the messages our body language speaks. I found that non-verbal communication is important between two people and speak just as loud as verbal communication. Overall, this exercise has increased my insight about the integrity of communication that will ultimately enhance my professionalism.