The four basic types of listening are:
1. Inactive listening. The definition of this is the old adage, “In one ear and out the
other.” You hear the words, but your mind is wandering and no communication is
2. Selective listening. You hear only what you want to hear. You hear some of the
message and immediately begin to formulate your reply or second guess the speaker
without waiting for the speaker to finish.
3. Active listening. You listen closely to content and intent. What emotional meaning
might the speaker be giving you? You try to block out barriers to listening. Most
importantly, you are non-judgmental and empathetic.
4. Reflective Listening. This is active listening when you also work to clarify what the
speaker is saying and make sure there is mutual understanding.
What is your guess as to which one people practice most?
Many types of listening
There are many names for different types of listening. Here is a collection of types and the different names that get ascribed to them, along with a brief description of each.
Active listening – Listening in a way that demonstrates interest and encourages continued speaking.
Appreciative listening – Looking for ways to accept and appreciate the other person through what they say. Seeking opportunity to praise. Alternatively listening to something for pleasure, such as to music.
Attentive listening - Listening obviously and carefully, showing attention.
Biased listening – Listening through the filter of personal bias.
Casual listening – Listening without obviously showing attention. Actual attention may vary a lot.
Comprehension listening – Listening to understand. Seeking meaning (but little more).
Content listening - Listening to understand. Seeking meaning (but little more).
Critical listening – Listening in order to evaluate, criticize or otherwise pass judgment on what someone else says.
Deep listening – Seeking to understand the person, their personality and their real and unspoken meanings and motivators.
Dialogic listening – Finding meaning through conversational exchange, asking for clarity and testing understanding.
Discriminative listening – Listening for something specific but nothing else (eg. a baby crying).
Empathetic listening – Seeking to understand what the other person is feeling. Demonstrating this empathy.
Evaluative listening – Listening in order to evaluate, criticize or otherwise pass judgment on what someone else says.
False listening – Pretending to listen but actually spending more time thinking.
Full listening - Listening to understand. Seeking meaning.
High-integrity listening – Listening from a position of integrity and concern.
Inactive listening – Pretending to listen but actually spending more time thinking.
Informative listening – Listening to understand. Seeking meaning (but little more).
Initial listening – Listening at first then thinking about response and looking to interrupt.
Judgmental listening - Listening in order to evaluate, criticize or otherwise pass judgment on what someone else says.
Partial listening – Listening most of the time but also spending some time day-dreaming or thinking of a response.
Reflective listening – Listening, then reflecting back to the other person what they have said.
Relationship listening – Listening in order to support and develop a relationship with the other person.
Sympathetic listening – Listening with concern for the well-being of the other person.
Therapeutic listening – Seeking to understand what the other person is feeling. Demonstrating this empathy.
Total listening – Paying very close attention in active listening to what is said and the deeper meaning found through how it is said.
Whole-person listening – Seeking to understand the person, their personality and their real and unspoken meanings and motivators.
The below information is from “How to Be a Better Listener” by Sherman K. Okum, Nation’s Business, August 1975, and from “Building a Professional Image: Improving Listening Behavior” by Philip Morgan and Kent Baker, Supervisory Management, November 1995
Only about 25 percent of listeners grasp the central ideas in communications. To improve listening skills, consider the following:
tends to “wool-gather” with slow speakers
thinks and mentally summarizes, weighs the evidence, listens between the lines to tones of voice and evidence
subject is dry so tunes out speaker
finds what’s in it for me
fights distractions, sees past bad communication habits, knows how to concentrate
takes intensive notes, but the more notes taken, the less value; has only one way to take notes
has 2-3 ways to take notes and organize important information
is overstimulated, tends to seek and enter into arguments
doesn’t judge until comprehension is complete
inexperienced in listening to difficult material; has usually sought light, recreational materials
uses “heavier” materials to regularly exercise the mind
lets deaf spots or blind words catch his or her attention
interpret color words, and doesn’t get hung up on them
shows no energy output
holds eye contact and helps speaker along by showing an active body state
judges delivery — tunes out
judges content, skips over delivery errors
listens for facts
listens for central ideas
GOOD LISTENERS LISTEN WITH THEIR FACES
The first skill that you can practice to be a good listener is to act like a good listener. We have spent a lot of our modern lives working at tuning out all of the information that is thrust at us. It therefore becomes important to change our physical body language from that of a deflector to that of a receiver, much like a satellite dish. Our faces contain most of the receptive equipment in our bodies, so it is only natural that we should tilt our faces towards the channel of information.
A second skill is to use the other bodily receptors besides your ears. You can be a better listener when you look at the other person. Your eyes pick up the non-verbal signals that all people send out when they are speaking. By looking at the speaker, your eyes will also complete the eye contact that speakers are trying to make. A speaker will work harder at sending out the information when they see a receptive audience in attendance. Your eyes help complete the communication circuit that must be established between speaker and listener.
When you have established eye and face contact with your speaker, you must then react to the speaker by sending out non-verbal signals. Your face must move and give the range of emotions that indicate whether you are following what the speaker has to say. By moving your face to the information, you can better concentrate on what the person is saying. Your face must become an active and contoured catcher of information.
It is extremely difficult to receive information when your mouth is moving information out at the same time. A good listener will stop talking and use receptive language instead. Use the I see . . . un hunh . . . oh really words and phrases that follow and encourage your speaker’s train of thought. This forces you to react to the ideas presented, rather than the person. You can then move to asking questions, instead of giving your opinion on the information being presented. It is a true listening skill to use your mouth as a moving receptor of information rather than a broadcaster.
A final skill is to move your mind to concentrate on what the speaker is saying. You cannot fully hear their point of view or process information when you argue mentally or judge what they are saying before they have completed. An open mind is a mind that is receiving and listening to information.
If you really want to listen, you will act like a good listener. Good listeners are good catchers because they give their speakers a target and then move that target to capture the information that is being sent. When good listeners aren’t understanding their speakers, they will send signals to the speaker about what they expect next, or how the speaker can change the speed of information delivery to suit the listener. Above all, a good listener involves all of their face to be an active moving listener.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
If you are really listening intently, you should feel tired after your speaker has finished. Effective listening is an active rather than a passive activity.
When you find yourself drifting away during a listening session, change your body position and concentrate on using one of the above skills. Once one of the skills is being used, the other active skills will come into place as well.
Your body position defines whether you will have the chance of being a good listener or a good deflector. Good listeners are like poor boxers: they lead with their faces.
Meaning cannot just be transmitted as a tangible substance by the speaker. It must also be stimulated or aroused in the receiver. The receiver must therefore be an active participant for the cycle of communication to be complete.
ANOTHER GOOD TAKE ON THE TOPIC:
Firstly we need to acknowledge that a major source of problem in communication is defensiveness. Effective communicators are aware that defensiveness is a typical response in a work situation especially when negative information or criticism is involved. Be aware that defensiveness is common, particularly with subordinates when you are dealing with a problem. Try to make adjustments to compensate for the likely defensiveness. Realize that when people feel threatened they will try to protect themselves; this is natural. This defensiveness can take the form of aggression, anger, competitiveness, avoidance among other responses. A skillful listener is aware of the potential for defensiveness and makes needed adjustment. He or she is aware that self-protection is necessary and avoids making the other person spend energy defending the self.
Than there are two major components to effective listening, or in other words, two families of skills that need to be mastered. The first component is your ability to focus your attention on the words, body language, and meaning of the speaker. If you are unable to focus your attention on these in a sustained manner, you will have difficulty understanding the nuances of what the speaker is expressing.
In terms of attention, you cannot be an excellent listener if:
- your attention drifts to other things running around in your head while another person is speaking.
- you judge the speaker while he/she is speaking. Thinking about how you could say it better, the size of the person’s nose, or how wrong the speaker is, is going to impede your task of understanding the speaker from the speaker’s position.
- you spend most conversational time eagerly waiting for “your turn” to speak.
- you rehearse your response while the other person is speaking.
- you undertake some other activity while the other person is speaking (e.g.. checking the time, making extensive notes, answering the phone, etc.).
So, in other words, effective listening requires you to focus your attention, and to acquire the discipline and skill to do this almost automatically. It does not come naturally!
The second component of effective listening relates to your ability to communicate your understanding of what the speaker is saying and meaning. Even if you manage to focus your attention on a speaker, if you cannot communicate this to the speaker, you will be unlikely to reap all of the potential benefits of effective listening.
Two common skills that fall into this category are empathetic listening (expressing your understanding of the feelings of the speaker), and reflective listening, or paraphrasing (expressing your understanding of the details of the speaker’s talk).
Developing Attention-Focusing Skills
Comparatively speaking it is much easier to develop paraphrasing and empathetic listening verbal skills than it is to acquire the self-discipline of attention focusing. For this reason, we are going to discuss a simple technique to use to practice attention focusing. In her book “Staying Well With The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, Suzette Haden Elgin suggests that this form of practice is more effective than practicing on real people (at least at first). All it requires is a television, or radio, and a few minutes of uninterrupted time available on a regular basis.
- Find a television or radio program that approximates real talk. In other words, the ideal program would have some period where the speaker talks for several minutes, uninterrupted. A sermon, speech or lecture is ideal. In fact Elgin suggests telecasts of parliament or government proceedings might be ideal, and since these are generally available in most areas via cable, they are also easy to find.
- Give the speaker your full attention. Elgin suggests that you listen to the words AND watch the body language. Most people will find that stray thoughts intrude quite quickly, sometimes as often as every ten or fifteen seconds. Each time your mind wanders, “grab it” and refocus on the speaker. Don’t get discouraged if you must do this many times. It will get easier.
- Once you are able to listen with full attention to the TV/radio speaker, for a period of ten minutes, you will be ready to start practicing with people in person. Elgin suggests that you actually time yourself, since it is easy to misjudge the time when you are trying to listen.
Those of you who have any background in meditation, relaxation exercises or the martial arts will recognize this type of practice as something very familiar. Attention focusing is a mental discipline, regardless of context.
There are several skill components to effective listening. The most difficult to acquire is the ability to focus your attention on a speaker without being distracted by judgments and thoughts that you generate internally. However, if you do not learn how to focus your attention, you are not likely to understand the speaker sufficiently to respond effectively. As you improve this ability, you will find that you will be involved in less misunderstandings, and you will be perceived as a more positive, effective person, regardless of your position in the organization.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Currently 0 comment - But what do you think?
‘JK sez’: never stop asking questions
Most appropriate words to asking questions are of course: ‘the 5 W’s on an H’: ‘What’, ‘Why’, ‘When’, ‘Whom’, ‘Where’ and ‘How’.
I keep six honest serving men,
They taught me all I know,
Their names are What and Why and When, And How and Where and Who.
- Rudyard Kipling’s: The Serving Men; The
Elephant’s Child (1902)
‘What’ broadly states the situation or problem. “Why” is arguably the most powerful question you can ask. It forces you to consider the significance of the problem and thus the nature of your response. It can be especially valuable when applied as part of the well known as the problem solving technique, ‘5 Whys’. The repeated asking of ‘why?’ can enable deep analysis of problems, essential for getting to root causes.
Next you should use ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘who’ and ‘when’. These questions are designed to both deepen and broaden analysis. When combined into a question checklist, they become both a tool for analyzing and solving problems, and the basis for an action plan.
These ‘open-ended questionings’ are of course excellent in appropriate probing routines as there is no fixed ending or limit of reply. In addition the questions encourage ongoing conversation, and assist you in gaining more information. On top of that they allow you to gain insights into the person on the other side’s feelings, as they draw out more information.
On the other hand; ‘closed questions’ accomplish answers with a fixed range limit. In principle they are answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, or with a simple statement of fact. By using these questions you are directing the conversation. Used mainly for collecting quickly and efficiently a set of specific needs of information or (re-) confirming facts and/or by way of checklist use.
These two are just the main categories; you can do even more specific routines by engaging into: Probing Questions; Echo question and Leading Questions
Probing Questions: this one is particularly helpful as and when an open-ended questions only provides part of the answer you are looking for. These probing questions are similar to open-ended question, but it’s a follow-up and they address narrower facts. It asks about one area and will lead you to the heart of the matter. As examples: “Are you able to tell me more about…..?” or “What did you like best about ………..”
The Echo Question: This technique is good for getting more information also. In a sense, you can use it similar to a probing question. Basically you are to repeat the last part of a phrase the caller said. Slightly raise the tone of your voice at the end of the phrase to convert it to a question. Then pause and use silence. “…The billing you received?”
The echo question repeats part of what the other person has said, whilst using voice inflection to convert it into a question. It is also known as ‘mirroring or reflecting’. Some call it: ‘parroting’. Any way you want to call it, it’s a valuable technique to use.
Leading Questions: these ones you better watch out for as they can end up being good or bad at the same time. If you ask them improperly, they tend to be understood as being manipulative as it tends to lead the person to answer the way you want. Used properly though, you will be helping the person to the right answer. Samples are:
- “You understand what I’m mean, don’t you?”
- “You’ll want to know about our service delivery, right?”
- “You’ll want to go and make a purchase, won’t you?”
Many a times these leading questions end with suggestive nudges toward the desired answer. Most of the time the ending phrases would be, “Don’t you?”, “Shouldn’t you?”, “Won’t you?”, “Haven’t you?”, and “Right?”
So where are leading questions useful? Well, they’re useful in helping someone who’s undecided to make the right decision, a decision that is intended for their benefit. You end up using a leading question ethically when you help someone to do the right thing. This technique, is known by some as: the “tie down” technique because you’re actually trying to tie down the other person’s needs.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Currently 0 comment - But what do you think?