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Select Readings – Upper-Intermediate

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  1. Chapter 1: The Youngsters Behind Youtube
    Before You Read
  2. Reading the passage
  3. Understanding the Text
    2 Practices
  4. Building Vocabulary: Understanding Compound Nouns
    1 Practice
  5. Reading Skill: Identifying Main Ideas
    1 Practice
  6. Discussion and Writing
  7. Chapter 2: When to Use Female Nouns
    Before You Read
  8. Reading the passage
  9. Understanding the Text
    2 Practices
  10. Building Vocabulary: Using Female and Gender-Neutral Nouns
    2 Practices
  11. Reading Skill: Supporting Main Ideas
    1 Practice
  12. Discussion and Writing
  13. Chapter 3: Your Negative Attitude Can Hurt Your Career
    Before You Read
  14. Reading the passage
  15. Understanding the Text
    2 Practices
  16. Building Vocabulary: Using Synonyms and Antonyms
    2 Practices
  17. Reading Skill: Scanning for Specific Information
    1 Practice
  18. Discussion and Writing
  19. Chapter 4: The Colorful World of Synesthesia
    Before You Read
  20. Reading the passage
  21. Understanding the Text
    2 Practices
  22. Building Vocabulary: Understanding Verb-Forming Suffixes
    1 Practice
  23. Reading Skill: Making Inferences
    1 Practice
  24. Discussion and Writing
  25. Chapter 5: What Is Creative Thinking?
    Before You Read
  26. Reading the passage
  27. Understanding the Text
    2 Practices
  28. Building Vocabulary: Understanding Figures of Speech
    1 Practice
  29. Reading Skill: Using Context
    1 Practice
  30. Discussion and Writing
  31. Chapter 6: Listen Up
    Before You Read
  32. Reading the passage
  33. Understanding the Text
    3 Practices
  34. Building Vocabulary: Using Adverbs and Intensifiers
    1 Practice
  35. Reading Skill: Recognizing Sentence Transitions
    1 Practice
  36. Discussion and Writing
  37. Chapter 7: Students Won't Give Up Their French Fries
    Before You Read
  38. Reading the passage
  39. Understanding the Text
    2 Practices
  40. Building Vocabulary: Learning Idiomatic Expressions
    1 Practice
  41. Reading Skill: Summarizing
    1 Practice
  42. Discussion and Writing
  43. Chapter 8: Why I Quit the Company
    Before You Read
  44. Reading the passage
  45. Understanding the Text
    3 Practices
  46. Building Vocabulary: Understanding Phrasal Verbs
    1 Practice
  47. Reading Skill: Paraphrasing
  48. Discussion and Writing
  49. Chapter 9: East Meets West on Love's Risky Cyberhighway
    Before You Read
  50. Reading the passage
  51. Understanding the Text
    3 Practices
  52. Building Vocabulary: Using Modifiers
  53. Reading Skill: Identifying Points of View
    1 Practice
  54. Discussion and Writing
  55. Chapter 10: Don't Let Stereotypes Warp Your Judgment
    Before You Read
  56. Reading the passage
  57. Understanding the Text
    2 Practices
  58. Building Vocabulary: Forming Participle Adjectives
    1 Practice
  59. Reading Skill: Recognizing Sources
    1 Practice
  60. Discussion and Writing
  61. Chapter 11: The Art of Reading
    Before You Read
  62. Reading the passage
  63. Understanding the Text
    3 Practices
  64. Building Vocabulary: Learning Word Forms
    1 Practice
  65. Reading Skill: Recognizing Analogies
    1 Practice
  66. Discussion and Writing
  67. Chapter 12: When E.T. Calls
    Before You Read
  68. Reading the passage
  69. Understanding the Text
    3 Practices
  70. Building Vocabulary: Understanding Nouns Derived from Adjectives
    1 Practice
  71. Reading Skill: Recognizing Scenarios
    1 Practice
  72. Discussion and Writing
Lesson 33 of 72
In Progress

Understanding the Text

Rathanak May 27, 2021

Imagine the following supervisor-employee exchange at your workplace: Bill (employee): Dave, I’m really discouraged about the way things have been going on the job. It just never goes the way I expect it to. And it seems like you’re never around anymore.  

Dave (supervisor): Sounds as though you’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about this. Go ahead.

Bill: Well, we are a week behind in production, and our supplies are not coming in on time. I feel swamped and unable to catch up. And when I have tried to find you lately to see about getting some extra help down there, you are not available. 

Dave: Seems that you feel cut off from any support from me. 

You have just read an example of good listening. Listening is probably the most essential component of being a successful supervisor. The one attribute most often stated about a well-liked boss is, “he or she really listens to me.” As Dave illustrated in the above brief scenario, he was on his way to clearing up a misunderstanding, building rapport, developing respect, and establishing a feeling of cooperation. 

Dave was establishing a caring and understanding environment with Bill. He did this by having the attitude about people that included the following values: 

• “I’m responsible for my actions, feelings, and behavior.”

• “I don’t have the power to change others, only myself” 

• “Refraining from judging others will assist me in listening to them effectively.”

• “I allow others to be on an equal level with myself.”

These values influence Dave to listen empathetically, communicate openly, describe behavior nonjudgmentally, and assume responsibility for his feelings and behavior, and, in turn, this enhances the self-esteem of people around him. 

Listening Is a Skill 

Effective listening is a learned skill; it doesn’t happen automatically for most people. In addition, there are few rewards for listening, but there are punishments for not listening. How do you feel when listeners are not paying attention to you by looking at their watches, doing some activity, or not acknowledging what you’ve said? You probably felt put down or, even worse, you felt like you were talking to a wall. Listeners have a lot more power and impact on the talker than most people realize. 

In addition, many people tend to assume listening is basically the same thing as hearing—a dangerous misconception that leads to believing that effective listening is instinctive. As a result, supervisors make little effort to develop listening skills and unknowingly neglect a vital communication function. Research shows that the average person on the job spends 40 percent of his time listening, 35 percent talking, 16 percent reading, and nine percent writing. 

On average, people are only about 35 percent efficient as listeners. This lack of effective listening often results in missed opportunities to avoid misunderstandings, conflict, poor decision-making, or a crisis because a problem wasn’t identified in time. 

Three Levels of Listening 

Awareness of your listening behavior will go a long way in helping you become an effective listener. Listening can be divided into three levels, which are characterized by certain behaviors that affect listening efficiency. 

Most often, people have difficulty listening effectively when in a conflict situation, when dealing with emotional people, when having criticism directed at them, when being disciplined, or when feeling anxious, fearful, or angry. 

The following descriptions of the three levels will help you understand the distinction between how each level is expressed: 

Level 1. A person at Level 1 demonstrates the characteristics of a good listener. These listeners look for an area of interest in the talker’s message; they view it as an opportunity to gather new and useful information. Effective listeners are aware of their personal biases, are better able to avoid making automatic judgments about the talker, and to avoid being influenced by emotionally charged words. Good listeners suspend judgment and are empathetic to the other person’s feelings. They can see things from the other person’s point of view and inquire about, rather than advocate, a position. 

Level 1 listeners use extra thought time to anticipate the talker’s next statement, to mentally summarize the stated message, evaluate what was said, and to consciously notice nonverbal cues. Their overall focus is to listen with understanding and respect. In the example at the beginning of this article, Dave did an excellent job responding to Bill at Level 1. Read the brief scenario again with the description of Level 1 in mind and you will see how Dave illustrates these characteristics. 

Level 2. At this level, a person is mainly listening to words and the content of what is being said, but does not fully understand what the words mean. This results in a semantic barrier—the meaning of words. There are thousands of words in the English vocabulary. The average adult in the United States uses 500 of these words most often. However, each one of these words has between 20 and 25 meanings. This means that we are using 500 words with the possibility of 12,500 different meanings. Adding to the confusion is the variety of slang Americans use, double meanings of many words, and on and on. 

The important factor in all of this is that words don’t communicate. It’s the meaning and the understanding of words that make communication work. For instance, Level 2 listeners are zeroing in on words, but many times, they miss the intent, such as what is being expressed nonverbally through tone of voice, body posture, etc. 

As a result, Level 2 listeners hear what the speaker says but make little effort to understand the speaker’s intent. Needless to say, this can lead to misunderstandings and a variety of negative feelings. In addition, since the listener appears to be listening by nodding his head in agreement and not asking clarifying questions, the talker may be lulled into a false sense of being understood. 

Level 3. At this level, people are tuning out the speaker, daydreaming, or faking attention while thinking about unrelated matters. This causes relationship breakdowns, conflicts, and poor decision-making because the person is busy finding fault, responding defensively, or becoming overly emotional. All of this influences either the talker or the listener to move into the flight-or-fight mode.

As you examine these three levels, you can imagine how different groups and individuals would work together based on which level they are activating. 

Benefits of Level 1 Listening 

There are many benefits for supervisors who listen effectively at Level 1. When employees know they are talking to a listener instead of a supervisor who sits in judgment, they openly suggest ideas and share feelings. When this happens, the two of them can work as a team creatively solving the problem instead of placing blame on each other. 

As an effective listener, you set in motion a positive, mutually rewarding process by demonstrating interest in the employee and what he or she is saying. This empathetic listening encourages honesty, mutual respect, understanding, and a feeling of security in the employee. Listening also encourages employees to feel self-confident. This in turn can build their self-esteem and a feeling of being empowered. 

Guidelines for Empathetic Listening 

• Be attentive. You will create a positive atmosphere through your nonverbal behavior, for instance, eye contact, an open relaxed posture, a friendly facial expression, and a pleasant tone of voice. When you are alert, attentive, and relaxed, the other person feels important and more secure. 

• Be interested in the speaker’s needs. Remember listening at Level 1 means you listen with understanding and mutual respect. 

• Listen from a caring attitude. Be a sounding board by allowing the speaker to bounce ideas and feelings off of you. Don’t ask a lot of questions right away. Questions can often come across as if the person is being “grilled.”

• Act like a mirror. Reflect back what you think the other person is feeling. Summarize what the person said to make sure you understand what he’s saying. 

• Don’t let the other person “hook you; This can happen when you get personally involved. Getting personally involved in a problem usually results in anger and hurt feelings or motivates you to jump to conclusions and be judgmental. 

• Use verbal cues. Acknowledge the person’s statement using brief expressions such as, auh-huh; “I see; or “interesting.” Encourage the speaker to reveal more by saying, “tell me about it; “let’s discuss it; or, “I’d be interested in what you have to say.” 

Following these guidelines will help you be a successful listener. It’s critical to create the habit of being a Level 1 listener by applying these guidelines on a daily basis so that they are internalized as part of your listening behavior. You can do this by taking time each day to carry out these skills successfully in a specific situation. You will be surprised at the results.

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