| John Spacey, December 11, 2015 updated on April 23, 2021
Listening is the processing of verbal communication. The concept of listening is often extended to include the processing of non-verbal communication and emotion when someone is speaking. People commonly adopt different styles and approaches to listening depending on the situation. The following are the common types of listening.
Finding ways to stay actively engaged in listening to avoid the temptation to think about something else. For example, actively asking questions such that you need to stay on top of things. Note taking is another type of active listening.
Reflective ListeningA weak form of active listening that involves summarizing or restating what has been said. Often confused with active listening.
Critical ListeningAn approach to active listening that involves analysis and evaluation of what is being said.
Empathic ListeningAnother approach to active listening that involves interpreting the emotions behind what is said as opposed to the logical meaning of words.
Communicative ListeningPaying attention to what you are communicating as a listener with your verbal and non-verbal responses. For example, taking care to look like you are listening, even if you are not.
Active Non-ListeningActively refusing to listen as a strategy such as sidelining. Active non-listening may also be motivated by a sense that speech is polluting your thought processes. For example, listening to someone who is steeped in negativity such that it is bringing you down.
FilteringSeeking useful information in a long stream of speech. For example, listening for information that applies to you in a conversation that mostly doesn't apply to you.
MinimizationSeeking just enough information to understand the basic context and topic such that you might be able to respond if prompted.
TargetingSeeking specific information in a long stream of speech. For example, a student who is only listening for the teacher to declare that it is lunch time.
Cognitive MultitaskingAttempting to listen and think about something else at the same time. This is often described as "drifting off" when someone is talking.
Appreciative ListeningListening because you genuinely find a speaker or conversation interesting. For example, listening intently to a good story.
ComprehensionIt is often said that listening is a skill. This is particularly true when listening to a second language or language that is unfamiliar such as industry or academic jargon. When you are immersed in a second language listening requires far more attention as it is easy to misunderstand. This can make high order listening such as critical listening more difficult as you are more focused on comprehension.
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