What Is Effective Listening in the Workplace? - Definition, Techniques & Barriers

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  • 0:02 Measuring Constructs
  • 0:37 Effective Listening Techniques
  • 2:50 Barriers
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Effective listening skills allow individuals to retain information by showing interest, listening and providing feedback to the other party in the communication exchange. There are specific techniques that will help individuals overcome listening barriers.

Effective Listening

Molly Pips just started a brand-new job at Mama's Pizzeria in town. She has been hired to take orders and help prepare food. Molly's mother warned her that she needs to pay attention and listen well when working at the restaurant. Every single day Molly's mom has to remind her about her homework, chores and to pick up after herself. Her mom is afraid that Molly lacks at effective listening skills. These important skills allow individuals to retain information by showing interest, listening and providing feedback to the other party in the communication exchange.

Effective Listening Techniques

Molly's boss, Diana, is the owner of Mama's Pizzeria. She is known to be very difficult to work with because she demands perfection. She hates it when employees make mistakes due to not listening to the customers. In fact, she has fired so many employees that she is known as the DRAP Queen. Why, you might ask? Well, on her employee break room wall she has a huge sign with the words 'know your DRAP!' It's a word that Diana made up so her employees can easily remember the techniques. 'DRAP' stands for the four techniques of effective listening that her employees need to know and use. DRAP is an acronym for deflecting, reflecting, advising and probing.

Deflecting is the ability to change the discussion to a different topic to ensure that the conversation continues. Diana explains to her employees that if a customer complains about their pizza being cold, the employee should apologize, offer a new hot piece of pizza and then change the discussion by handing the customer a bunch of five dollar off coupons.

Reflecting is the second effective listening technique, and it is the skill of letting the customer know that you are listening to what they are saying. For example, Diana requires that after her employees take phone orders, they must then repeat the order back to the customer to ensure that it is correct.

The third technique is advising, which means all her employees must be capable of giving good advice. Just last week, Diana was impressed because one of her employees advised a customer about the best catering menu alternatives for their college graduation party. The worker actually told the customer that they were ordering too much food and was able to save them money by ordering less.

The last part of effective listening is probing, or the ability to attain more information by asking questions. Diana always preaches to her workers that it is important to ask many questions when taking an order. Some examples would be: 'Do you want an order of fries with that?', 'How would you like that cooked?' or 'Do you want your dressing on the side?' Molly was fully trained and ready to start taking orders.


Molly's first few days on the job were uneventful as she kept the DRAP queen happy by following the techniques of effective listening. Then Friday rolled around and the restaurant became extremely busy. Molly started to make mistakes and not follow DRAP. For example, she stopped using the reflecting technique and did not repeat back to customers their phone food orders. One customer quickly became irate because they ordered a cheesesteak pizza and instead received a cheesecake and a pizza. Molly was mortified and ran in the back room. Five minutes later Diana came back and quickly took Molly aside. She did not yell at Molly. Instead, she sat her down and reiterated why DRAP is important to follow. She said it's understandable to make mistakes now and then.

She told Molly that she needed to be aware of barriers to effective listening, which are obstacles that cause the listener not to hear correctly what the speaker is communicating. She said that Molly just exhibited one of the barriers by trying to impress the customers and not repeat their orders. One way to overcome this mistake is to really listen and not be afraid to ask customers to repeat their order. Diana explained that there are three other barriers: being a know-it-all, being competitive and overreacting.

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