Center for Excellence in Academic Advising
I. Why is it important for the
adviser to have good listening skills?
A. Advising is a
- Advising is more than giving
- Advising usually involves two people who both deserve to
Usually the student needs something so her or his need takes
- The single most important skill is
B. It is important to the adviser to have good skill
in listening because
- It improves your relationship with
advisees and increases your value
- It enables you to
perform well those aspects of our jobs that transcend
- the teaching function
- the mentor function
- the exemplar function
- the critic function
problem-solving skills improve because you are better able to
is really going on with an advisee.
- You are less likely to make a
- You don't have to plan interviews to the last detail because
be listening actively and will learn from the advisee.
C. It is important to advisees that the adviser
have good skill in listening
- It affects advisees'
feelings about being in school; it affects their
shows that the institution cares about them, that someone will listen
- Advisees will tend to regard the good listener as more reliable
trustworthy, authoritative, and able.
- Advisees will perceive
themselves as adults who can be equals.
II. Barriers to good
A. Honor thine audience. You must give advisees a
hearing before judging
B. Advisers have the power and
backing of the institution, information and
Advisers can think they know what is happening with students and
D. Students can be afraid of bothering the
adviser, of being embarrassed
for not knowing something or not be aware of
what the real problem is.
E. Other barriers can be
- Judging what was said rather than listening for understanding;
- Name calling; always find something of value in what the
- Changing the subject or redirecting the conversation.
that communication has happened.
III. Theory specific to good
A. The six principles of communication
- We are always communicating. We cannot not communicate. 55% of
is nonverbal. 38% is in the tone of voice. 7% of effective
is in the words. As advisers, we must "listen"
with all our senses.
- Communication is not intent; it is perception.
It doesn't matter what
the speaker intends; it only matters what the
listener perceives. The listener
must always check perception with
- Communication is complex.
- Improved communication
skill reduces stress.
- Communication involves both attitudes and
- Skill in listening is learned young. Actual training is in
B. What is good listening?
- Listening is taking in information while reserving judgment.
- Listening is a choice; hearing simply happens.
C. What does a
good listener do?
- Uses attending skills. Giving your
physical attention to another
a. Has a posture of
(1) Inclining your body toward the speaker.
(2) Relaxed alertness.
(3) Facing the other squarely.
(4) Maintaining an open position.
(5) Positioning your body at an
b. Uses appropriate body motions. Moves in response to the speaker. Avoids nervous or distracting gestures.
c. Uses appropriate eye contact. Not too much, not too little.
d. Provides a nondistracting environment.
(1) Closing doors is a
good way to cut down on distractions, but for many
reasons, it may not be
a good idea.
(2) Removing physical barriers, e.g. , desks should not
the two communicators unless you mean to have the
e. Gives psychological attention. Be right there in
the same psychological
space with the advisee. You cannot fake this. A
perceptive advisee can
tell when your thoughts are a million miles away
or focused on yourself.
- Uses following skills.
That is, showing that you are following,
not leading, the conversation.
a. Giving door openers, ice breakers. These are noncoercive invitations
to talk, to get involved in the conversations. These typically have four
(1) A description of the other's body language. "Looks
may be troubling you."
(2) An invitation to
talk or continue talking. "I'd be glad to hear
what you have to
(3) Silence. Give the other person a chance to decide
whether to talk. And
if so, at his/her own pace.
b. Using minimal encourages. These are brief utterances/gestures that
show to the other person that you are with them; statements such as
c. Engaging in open but infrequent
questions. Questions tend to put the
two conversers opposite each other;
statements are more typical of two
people on the same side.
(1) Closed questions tend to impede good listening because they
anticipate an answer.
(2) Too many questions impede good
listening because the questioner tends
to direct rather than to follow
the conversation. Ask one question at a
d. Allowing for
attentive silence. This may be difficult for a busy
adviser to do. You
should not feel nervous and fill silence. While the
advisee is pausing,
you can be
(1) Attending to the student, showing attentive
(2) Observing the student; reading the student's body
(3) Reflecting on what the student has just said.
- Uses reflecting skills. These are the ways of
conveying to the
advisee that you understand/do not understand.
b. Reflecting feelings.
c. Using summative
D. Six nonverbal techniques for bettering
L - lean toward the speaker
I - involved posture. Don't always fold your arms. Don't cross your legs. Turn toward the advisee; face the person.
S - smile appropriately
T - territory. Don't put a desk between you and the speaker. Don't invade the speaker's comfortable space. Too much distance impedes communication; too little space increases anxiety.
E - eye contact. Have good eye contact 60% of the time.
N - nondistracting movement. Nod your head, move your body comfortably when the speaker moves. Avoid distracting movements.
VII. Suggestions for further enhancement of
listening and general
listening and communication skills.
A. Duties of the speaker
1. Speak loudly enough.
2. Speak clearly. Use language that is understandable.
3. Speak in terms of the listener's interest, something of value to the listener.
4. Be specific.
B. Duties of the listener
3. Appreciate the message.
4. Act on the speaker's request.
C. How do we put all we have learned about
listening into practice?
1. Realize that it takes 21-30 days to change behavior.
2. Make a 30-day plan.
3. Make a commitment. Write down your objectives.
4. Find a friend to work with you.
5. Discuss the topic of listening with others.
6. Observe others listening.
7. Tell people that you are working on listening.
8. Consciously work at listening.
Self-Assessment of Listening|
Rate yourself using a scale from 1 to 5 on your use of listening skills. At the end of your day, reflect on your interviews and then give yourself a score in each of the categories.
Note what you need to improve: