Understanding the importance of listening

Transcription, by definition, is the art of turning the spoken word into the written word.  To enable concise and accurate document production, there are many skills required to become a competent transcriber, but ‘listening’ is a skill that is often overlooked.  Everyone knows how to listen, but where the true skill lies in transcription can be explained very simply.

Whether you are dealing with a client via telephone, email, face-to-face, or actually transcribing, real listening is an art in itself.  Any business can benefit from this simple skill if implemented correctly, saving companies billions.  Pause for a second, and ask yourself the question, do I really listen?

Listening is a true skill:

We will spend more time using our listening skills than any other skill.  Like other skills, listening takes practice.

What does it mean to ‘really listen’?  Real listening is a process that has three basic steps:

  • Hearing means listening enough to catch what the speaker is trying to convey.
  • The next part of listening happens when you take what you have heard and understand and digest the content.
  • Assessing takes place after you are sure you understand what the speaker has said and think about whether it makes sense.

Tips for being a good listener:

  • Pay particular attention to the audio you are transcribing.  Don’t look out the window, converse with colleagues or try multitasking at the same time.
  • Make sure your mind is focused.  It can be easy to let your mind wander if you think you know what the person is going to say next, but you will probably be wrong.
  • When dealing with a client, let the speaker finish before you begin to talk. Speakers appreciate having the chance to say everything they would like to say without being interrupted.  When you interrupt, it looks like you aren’t listening, even if you really are.
  • Let yourself finish listening before you begin to speak.  You can’t really listen if you are busy thinking about what you want to say next.
  • Listen for key points.  These are the most important elements the speaker wants to get across.  They may be mentioned at the start or end of a talk, and repeated a number of times.
  • Ask questions.  If you are not sure you understand what the speaker has said, just ask.  It is a good idea to repeat in your own words what the speaker said so that you can be sure your understanding is correct.
  • Give feedback.  Sit up straight and look directly at the speaker.  Now and then, nod to show that you understand.  At appropriate points you may also smile, frown, laugh, or be silent.  These are all ways to let the speaker know that you are really listening.  Remember, you listen with your face as well as your ears!

Thinking fast:

Remember: time is on your side.  Thoughts move about four times as fast as speech.  With practice, while you are listening you will also be able to think about what you are hearing, really understand it, and give feedback to the speaker, or transcribe accurately what you have just heard.

Whether you are a transcriber, manager or CEO, every individual can benefit from ‘really listening’ in their everyday workplace!

If you would like to discover how Alphabet can assist you or your organisation in the transcription process, please telephone: 01707 260027.