Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

The Effects of Home Country, Gender, and Position on Listening Behaviors

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

The Effects of Home Country, Gender, and Position on Listening Behaviors

Article excerpt


Frequently listening isstated as an important component and a necessary skill for the workplace (Brownell, 1990, 1994; DiSalvo, 1980; Schwartz, 2004;Sypher, Bostrom,& Seibert, 1989; Wacker & Hawkins, 1995). For over 50 years, researchers have been showing listening as a highly desirable workplace skill for both managers and employees (Cooper, 1997; Coopman, 2001, Husband, Cooper,&Monsour, 1988; Nichols & Stevens, 1957; Rogers &Roethlisberger, 1952; Sypher, 1984). Goby and Lewis (2000) stated that listening is rated in the top 10 practices for business effectiveness, but it is a skill that is frequently overlooked and taken for granted. Managers and employees often cite listening as a weakness within employee communication (Lewis &Reinsch, 1988).

In today's workplace, listening is also impacted by the fact that more business is conducted globally, which requires an awareness of listening behaviors of other cultures (Kumbruck&Derboven, 2005).Given that work has become more global and that effective workplace communication between managers and non-managers is needed to meet goals andto improve working relationships,an understanding ofthe differences in listening behaviors between managers and non-managers who are males and females in different countries is worthy of study.

Workplace listening is important for several reasons. First, listening is linked to the building of knowledge and helps organizations develop their intellectual capital (Schwartz, 2004). Second, listening helps managers develop their competencies to deal with employee issues (Crittenden & Crittenden, 1985). Third, organizations that emphasize the importance of listening have employees who aligned their actions with organizational goals(Walters, 2005). Fourth, Cunningham (1992) has stated that listening is needed for effective business practices. If the listening practices of managers and non-managers who work in various countries can be understood, then effective listening behaviors can be identified, which will lead to an understanding of the role of listening within the workplace. Before exploring workplace listening further, it is necessary to define listening and explain the theory surrounding this competency.

A Definition and Theory of Listening

According to Witkin and Trochim (1997), there is no universal definition of listening. The International Listening Association offered the following definition of listening: "The process of receiving, constructing meaning from, and responding to spoken and or nonverbal messages" (Emmert, 1996, p. 2-3). Purdy expanded the above definition by defining listening as "the active and dynamic process of attending, perceiving, interpreting, remembering, and responding to the expressed (verbal and nonverbal) needs, concerns, and information offered by other human beings" (1996, p. 8). Flynn, Valikoski, andGrau(2008, p. 143) argued that "listening involves hearing and cognition and assumes the ability to selectively perceive, interpret, understand, assign meaning, react, remember, and analyze what is heard".

According to Witkin (1990), listening research was conducted for a number of years without any theoretical base, but now approximately 13 theoretical perspectives for listening have been established (Wolvin&Coakley, 1993). However, listening research is still not grounded in theory due to a lack of testable theories.

Listening is performed cognitively and perceived behaviorally. Nevertheless, Witkin(1990) stated listening cognitions and behaviors are not always congruent. Up to and including the year 2002, all listening models and definitions could be traced to linear theorists of attention and memory research or to theorists who grounded their work in the linear paradigm (Janusik, 2002). Janusik (2007) took the first step with her research to validate the conversational listening span, which builds a more integrated listening model including cognitive psychology and communication. …

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