Vigilant Listening:

The Importance of Developing Critical Listening Skills

EXCERPT: In order to avoid being taken in by slick presentations, unsound reasoning and subtle falsehood, it is important to acquire an understanding of the persuasion techniques commonly employed. Listed below are certain methods that have been (and are) used by speakers to convince, and often mislead, individuals and groups. Unfortunately, modern listeners seldom have any educational background in logical criticism or oratorical techniques, and are all too often vulnerable to and unaware of the traps being laid for them. Though this article focuses on developing listening skills, the same critical processes which can be used to analyze the validity of spoken material may also be employed in reading or self examination.

As a listener, it is important to think and apply the same good sense you use in everyday survival to every area of your life. It is tragic that so many choose to set aside their reasoning skills in large, important areas of life and, instead, settle for being manipulated—for uncritically adopting someone else’s pre-packaged viewpoints. It may be easy, comfortable and pleasant to allow others to do your thinking, but it is neither wise nor commendable. Since this is neither a book on logic nor a public speaking primer, the main focus will be on flaws, both on the speaker’s part and in the way audiences behave.

By Kevin N. Daniel

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