Listening is communicating! If there is one communication skill you should aim to master: it’s listening.
Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process; it’s the key to effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages and information are easily misunderstood . . and so can you!
The Five Types of Listening:
- Appreciative listening. Simply put: appreciative listening is listening for enjoyment. Perhaps a friend is telling a story about the weekend, or you are listening to be entertained. When you practice appreciative listening, you simply sit back and absorb. You appreciate what’s happening around you. You are not analyzing; you are not evaluating. Instead, you are just enjoying the experience!
- Empathic listening. Empathic listening provides an opportunity to listen to the hurts or pains of another individual while providing support and understanding. For example, we may practice this with a coworker who is grieving or struggling. It’s a passionate, heartfelt style of listening where your attention and body language are creating a bond and sharing in the emotion.
- Discerning listening. This listening style helps you gather information. Say you are looking for the memorable takeaways in a volume of information that is being communicated to you: each time you hear something that stands out to you, you store it away for another time.
- Comprehensive listening. This listening style goes a step beyond discerning listening. The comprehensive listener seeks to understand and organize the memorable takeaways, and turn those takeaways into useful information. The motivation is to gain understanding, and dialogue deepens their understanding.
- Evaluative listening. This is the process of assessing information for the purpose of making a decision. The information received is compared against known facts and historical experience to determine the best course of action.
Your style of listening will change from time to time. The key? Learn to listen in the way that is appropriate for the moment!
Key Questions for Self-Reflection:
- How am I listening?
- Is there 1 type of listening I lean towards or would want to grow in?
- What does my body language say to others when I am listening?
- Have I asked for feedback from others on my listening skills?