Knowledge of types of listening: the key to understanding and being understood
Listening, the most overlooked part of communication is divided into several categories, the knowledge of which will help you choose the best type of listener to be an effective communicator. This knowledge distinguishes effective listeners from ineffective ones, as well as making one an effective listener.
The degree of attention, the perspective that is taken into consideration and the objective of listening determine the type of listening that one performs. The different types of listening can be classified into two broad types: positive and negative. Positive listening benefits the listener, the speaker, and society in general. Positive types of listening include sensitive listening, active listening, evaluative listening, relational listening, and appreciative listening. Negative listening is flawed and therefore does not serve the purpose of one or more of the parties to the communication.
The following exhibit shows various types of listening.
In passive listening, none of the speaker’s words enter the listener’s mind. The speaker’s words do not activate the listener’s thought process. But the listeners are physically present although mentally absent. The listener may have decided to ignore the speaker due to a preconceived notion or a boring presentation from the listener. The responsibility for this type of negative listening rests with the speaker, who may not have piqued the listeners’ interest.
Marginal listening, which is also known as selective listening, is slightly better than passive listening in the sense that the speaker’s information is heard in pieces and not in its entirety. The listener occasionally raises his head to take in some information, probably because he finds it pleasant or agreeable to his existing points of view. But, the listener may be missing the important part of the speaker’s message. This can also be classified as a type of negative listening, since the important part of the message is ignored and the benefit of the message is lost.
In this type of listening, the listener takes and absorbs information according to the listener’s own vision or perspective that dominates the speaker’s perspective, even if the speaker’s vision merges with that of the listener. In other words, a broader view of the speaker is ignored or given a less predominant place and a limited view of the listener is preserved. This is also classified as a type of negative listening. It is similar to a jaundiced person who looks at the world and thinks the surroundings are green. The view is far from true.
Empathic listening, which is also known as “sensitive listening,” is the opposite of projective listening in the sense that only the speaker’s view is predominantly taken while that of the listener is completely ignored or given less importance. . If a proper balance is struck between two points of view, it could be classified as positive. Due to the dominance of the speaker’s vision, it should be rated as negative listening and therefore should be improved. Being overly empathetic to others can leave the broader perspective to the winds or lead to the listener being exploited. But there are some characteristics of this type of listening. They include building trust, facilitating release of emotions, reducing tensions, creating a positive climate for negotiations, etc. (www.beyondintractability.org/essay/empathic_listening). Listeners must attend, support and empathize with the speaker.
Since empathic listening builds relationships, it can also be called ‘relational listening’.
Teacher. Asha Kaul is of the opinion that empathic listening in conjunction with active listening would prove to be the ideal listening in which the goals of the message are best served. (Kaul Asha, Business Communication, Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi, 2004, p.41.)
Practice this for best results
Dick Connor, Jeffery P. Davidson’s mentor, had a good habit. When the latter used to meet with the former to discuss new articles and key ideas, which usually happened at the dining room table, the former would often record the discussions.
Dick Connor first handed Jeffrey the recorded cassette, which was recorded by Dick Connor when the discussion about the new article and key ideas occurred. Dick Connor used to record discussions of important meetings. Jeffrey, when he first started listening to the cassette tape, was surprised to get many valuable ideas from listening to tapes that he did not get during the live discussions, however attentive he was and however diligently he took notes from the discussions. .
In fact, the insights you gained while listening to the tape were better than those you observed and took notes on during actual discussions. Jeffery felt that note-taking should be done after listening to the tapes and not during discussions.
Davidson P. Jeffrey, How to get noticed and get ahead in the business world, Jaico Books, Bombay, 1995, pp-81-82
Active listening can also be called “attentive listening” or “deliberate listening.”
Active listening takes place when the listener is active, which is born from the active participation of the listener. The listener shows a forward leaning body posture, seeks clarification and feedback. Active listening is very involved listening.
Ideal listening takes place when active listening is combined with empathic listening in which the opinions of both the listener and the speaker are fused with due balance.
The responsibility for active listening to occur rests solely with the speaker, who should be able to generate interest in the topic through an appropriate presentation, etc.
Attentive listening requires attention skills, tracking skills, and reflection skills. (Raman, Meenakshi and Singh, Prakash, Business Communication, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 99-100.) Attention skills include engaging posture, appropriate body movement, adequate eye contact, and an environment that does not distract. The following skills include the proper display of interest, the proper invitation to the speaker, restrained nods of encouragement, infrequent questions, and attentive silence. Reflective skills include paraphrasing, reaffirming the speaker’s emotions, re-expressing the speaker’s intended meaning, and summarizing ideas at intervals.
In evaluative listening, the listener evaluates the value of the message or compares it to what is generally considered best. You can do this simultaneously while listening or pausing for a moment. Since evaluation takes place in this type of listening, the listener can decide whether to continue listening or to move away from listening. Alternatively, you can focus on framing the rebuttal statement. Therefore, evaluative listening can lead to a positive or negative result depending on the open mind and intellect of the listener.
The listener pretends to be listening even though he is not really listening. It is also known as Pseudo listening. Use your body posture and eye fixation on the speaker to show that you are listening. This purpose of such listening is to please the speaker or other observers. This is similar to passive listening except that there is no dishonesty on the part of the listener in passive listening, whereas false listening is born out of dishonesty. This is the most undesirable type of negative listening.
Informational listening requires a lot of information with full concentration and therefore helps to understand the message that is being conveyed. Due to the intensity of the effort in taking most of the information, the message is understood almost close to what is intended. This is the best way to learn and an ideal way to listen. While assimilating what the teachers give him or while receiving instructions from superiors or when the subordinate explains the problem he is facing, the listener engages in informative listening. Informational listening requires a lot of attention.
Informational listening is the first stage of positive listening from which other types of listening originate, such as attentive listening, evaluative listening, empathic listening, etc.
Informational listening requires good vocabulary, concentration and memory to be effective in achieving its purpose (Raman, Meenakshi and Singh, Prakash, Business Communication, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006, p. 98).
The main purpose of appreciative listening is to appreciate and therefore enjoy the way the message is conveyed, but not to take advantage of the content or meaning of the message. Appreciative listening usually takes place while listening to music or when one enjoys the speaker’s style or other characteristics unrelated to the content.
The best benefit of appreciative listening is obtained based on three conditions: presentation, perception and previous experience (Raman, Meenakshi and Singh, Prakash, Business Communication, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006, p.101). Presentation factors include the speaker’s style, environment, setting, and personality. Second, the listener’s perception, which again depends on their attitude and expectations, determines how the presentation is appreciated. Finally, the listener’s previous experience and familiarity with the speaker determines whether or not they will enjoy the presentation. The existing positive opinion or familiarity with certain inherent and insignificant drawbacks in the presentation can help to appreciate the presentation.
Informational listening when combined with evaluative listening becomes critical listening.
Critical listening has its value when someone asks us to buy their products or services. We listen critically when someone makes an incredibly nice offer or comes up with a new problem-solving idea. Similarly, we are committed to listening critically when we listen to politicians, new paper accounts, the presentation of revolutionary ideas to change existing policies, etc. Aristotle has proposed three precautions to observe in order to make an effective criticism. They are ethos (speaker credibility), logos (logical arguments), and pathos (emotional appeals).
Critical thinking leaves one a highly logical person. But emotions like faith and the ability to see what is not visible, like what great business leaders like Ambani, Bill Gates, Narayana Murthy, etc. They saw, they fall outside the box, although they are very essential to high-priced success. A highly logical person is not emotional and therefore remains mediocre all his life.
The discriminative listener is one who is sensitive to changes in the speaker’s speed, volume, strength, tone, and accent in different words or ideas. Whoever listens attentively or critically or with the intention of evaluating or appreciating the speaker has to listen with discrimination.
Discriminatory listening requires the finest hearing without any hearing impairment, awareness of nuances in words, awareness of sounds and pronunciations, and the ability to detect non-verbal signals from the speaker.
In literal listening, the content is only taken by ignoring the relationship between the facts in the content. Because of this, the meaning of the message is lost.
Understanding the types of listening will prepare one against negative listening. The person who listens positively will achieve the purpose of that listening.