Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication, without the ability to listen effectively messages are easily misunderstood – communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated. Adults spend an average of 70% of their time engaged in some sort of communication, of this an average of 45% is spent listening compared to 30% speaking, 16% reading and 9% writing.

Type of listening

Here are several different types of listening that people resort to, which may be classified as:

  1. Discriminative listening
  2. Biased listening
  3. Evaluative listening
  4. Appreciative listening
  5. Sympathetic listening
  6. Empathic listening
  7. Therapeutic listening
  8. Relationship listening
  9. False listening
  10. Initial listening
  11. Selective listening
  12. Partial listening
  13. Full listening
  14. Deep listening
  1. Discriminative listening

It is the first and foremost type of listening in which we learn to discern the difference in sounds. The best illustration of discriminative listening as a phenomenon is the way a child learns to speak. Therefore, discriminative listening is both a function of our hearing abilities and the ability to distinguish between sound structures.

  1. Biased Listening

In biased listening, the receiver holds preconceived notions, which shape the way a receiver decodes the sender’s message.

  1. Evaluative Listening

Evaluative listening is also referred to as critical/judgmental listening. In evaluative listening, we listen to the sender’s message, and make judgments on the same. In evaluative listening, we also tend to evaluate the message against our own beliefs and values, trying to gauge whether the message is good or bad.

  1. Appreciative Listening

In appreciative listening, the person listens to things that he/she appreciates. For instance, have you ever noticed that the day you decide you want to lose weight; you tend to pick up more sounds/messages pertaining to the topic of losing weight? In other words, we tend to seek out useful things pertinent to us.

  1. Sympathetic Listening

As the name suggests, we engage in sympathetic listening when we sincerely care about the other person. For example, when your close friend discusses his/her work concerns with you, you listen with rapt attention so he/she knows that you care about him/her. We show the other person that we care, which makes it an important constituent in the context of relationship building.

  1. Empathic Listening

Empathic Listening entails not only caring for but showing compassion for the other person. When we go beyond sympathy and “literally” feel what the other person is feeling, we engage in empathic listening. However, to get the other person to open up, you must show the person that you share their pain and happiness.

  1. Therapeutic Listening

Therapeutic Listening does not mean just listening to the other person to express sympathy or to feel their happiness and pain. Its purpose is to take remedial actions, which will bring about a desired behavioral change in the other person.

  1. Relationship Listening

An important function of communication is to build a rapport with another person. This is where relationship listening comes in. In relationship listening, we simply listen to the other person in order to develop, maintain, and nourish a relationship.

  1. False Listening

False Listening occurs when a person is pretending to listen but, in reality, does not hear anything that is being said. Typically, we are all masters of this art. False listening is often used by the people who want to give a good impression that they are indeed listening but know completely well that it is not important for them to listen to the other person.

  1. Initial Listening

Initial Listening occurs when we listen to the other person in the beginning or when we listen to the opening message but then stop midway. This happens owing to one primary reason: You are simply listening to find an opening in the conversation, so that you can interject with your own points.

  1. Selective Listening

Selective Listening takes place when you listen to only those things that you want to hear or to those that interest you. However, do not confuse selective listening with biased listening. Selective listening is not a result of our biases; on the contrary, it stems from our interest/disinterest in a particular topic or even the level of knowledge that we want to gain from the same.

  1. Partial Listening

Partial Listening is a subtype of selective listening in which we make an utmost effort to listen but get distracted midway. The most common reason for this is the speed at which we process thoughts. In other words, since we process thoughts at three times the rate of speech, even if we try to listen attentively, our mind tends to wander because of this time differential.

  1. Full Listening

During Full Listening, we concentrate completely on what is being said. It is also known as active listening, wherein we try to understand the content wholly and completely. This form of listening is replete with paraphrasing and seeking clarifications from the speaker, etc. It obviously takes great effort on the part of the listener but is advantageous since the listener does not miss a point.

  1. Deep Listening

Deep Listening is the most profound of all listening types. Deep listening occurs when you go beyond what is being said and try to fathom what is not being said. This entails reading between the lines, reading nonverbal cues, understanding the speaker’s personality, etc. Deep listening is not an easy art to acquire and requires learning and effort on the part of the listener. However, having said that, deep listening has a lot of advantages in the workplace, therefore making the effort worthwhile.

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