MGTA 35 Lecture 3: Notes.5
ProfessorHugh Mac Donald
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Better Listeners: Focus attention, minimize distractions, process messages accurately, think critically.
Why is listening important: Checking for accuracy, Giving and getting feedback, Evaluating messages
Why listening is difficult: Listener distractions (channel surfing), limited attention span, jumping to
conclusions (through assimilation-the tendency to regard two similar messages as basically identical,
blurring the distinction between them), situational distractions
Overcoming four obstacles to good listening:
Thinking is faster than listening: listener’s mind may wander. So listener should concentrate on the
speech and take notes. Speaker should keep the speech focused, tie each point to main thesis.
Listener’s attention span is short: not listening to speeches that are long or complex. Practice gradually
listening to longer speeches. Divide speeches into small compact segments (for speaker).
Listener jumps to conclusions: missing speaker’s point, judging by listener view point only. Try to set
prejudices aside. Careful audience analysis, extra effort on clarity.
Situations contain distractions: following the distraction rather than the speech. Concentration on the
speech and on self-discipline. Stay flexible, adapt to situation.
Strategies for careful listening: Mapping in which the listening draws diagram showing the relationship
between the thesis of the speech and the main ideas that support it. Involves four steps: Identifying
the thesis, Identifying the main ideas that develop the thesis (can map claims that separately support
the thesis or together), assessing the adequacy of the main ideas, deciding whether the main ideas
support the thesis (plus and minus signs).
Second method, note taking- since may need more time comprehend in case of mapping or even the
ideas are not completely expressed until the end. Efficient note taking points: Focus on the thesis and
main ideas, take notes quietly, use key words rather than sentences, organise the notes as a rough
outline, abbreviate and use symbols whenever possible, make notes that help evaluate the speech.
Listening critically: Critical listening- listening that enables you to offer both an accurate rendering of
the speech and an interpretation and assessment of it. Critical thinking: the ability to form and defend
your own judgements rather than blindly accepting or instantly rejecting what you hear or read.
Characteristics of critical thinkers: reluctant to accept assertions on faith, distinguish facts from
opinions (strength of opinion depends on ethos of person), seek to uncover assumptions, open to new
ideas, may apply reason and common sense to new ideas, relate new ideas to what they already know.
Common in all points: Reflective judgement.
The skills of critical thinking: questioning and challenging both your ideas and those of others,
recognising differences between ideas, facts and opinions, between explicit claims and unstated
assumptions and between easily explained events and anomalies or puzzles, forming opinions and
supporting claims, putting ideas into a broader context.
Applying critical thinking to the speech situation: Critical judgements- judgements that can be
articulated and defended by providing the reasons for them. Are the main ideas identifiable, are the
links among the ideas reasonable (does the speaker proves what he claims and if the links are
established should you accept the speaker’s claim), are the ideas supported where necessary (does
the idea need support, has the speaker offered enough supporting material), how does accepting or
rejecting the thesis affect my other beliefs
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