The International Listening Association held its 35th annual convention gathered experts in the field to share research about listening.   The goal of the ILA is to advance the practice, teaching and research of listening throughout the world.  This year, the theme was The Power of Storysharing. Listen Edition founder, Monica Brady-Myerov, shares her thoughts and findings.

Listening is Not  __________

I was struck by an activity that got me thinking about what listening is.  The facilitator asked us to fill in the blank. Listening is not _________.  Some of the responses included:

Listening is not:

  • judging
  • advising
  • interrupting
  • not pretending
  • rehearsing

How would you fill in the blank?

800px-USMC-120302-M-PG598-001The Power of the Story

A study by a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem concludes his research by stating, “If you want people to listen, tell an interesting story.”  He did listening testing in a controlled lab experiment.  He tried to manipulate listening by telling the storyteller to either tell a personal experience story or in the control case, such as telling the listener about a daily routine.  His conclusion stated that it is possible to manipulate listening by telling good stories.  Those people who heard better, more interesting stories were rated as better listeners.


For a study of the most effective strategies around listening we turn to Laura Janusik of Rockhurst University in Missouri. She presented a three factor strategy to improve listening. You can read her entire paper here.

1. Directed Attention – focus, adjust, make meaning
2. Planning/Evaluation – before, during and after. Set goals for listening.
3. Problem Solving – using strategies to make meaning of words or situations you do not understand

Listening Measurements

A panel looked at listening-related instruments.  One called Listening Fidelity focuses on the receiving end of listening. It instructs people to draw a geometric shape by following the listening instructions.  It concentrates on the cognitive processing of the oral message and thereby brings out the differences of listeners. However, an analysis of the test criticizes it for being too easy—everyone receives a high score!  The conference attendees agreed that better listening instruments need to be developed.