Are you familiar with the different types of listening? This article reviews 7 types of listening. Do you practice the highest form of listening?
The Seven Types of Listening
Listening can be categorized into different levels or types, each representing a different level of engagement and understanding. These levels of listening are often used to describe the various ways in which people process and respond to spoken communication. How would others describe your most frequent level of listening?
The Seven Types of Listening
- Inactive Listening: This is the lowest level of listening, where the listener is physically present but not mentally engaged. They may appear to be listening, but their mind is elsewhere, and they are not processing the information being presented.
- Selective Listening: In selective listening, the listener pays attention only to certain parts of the message while ignoring or filtering out the rest. They focus on what is personally relevant or interesting to them.
- Strategic Listening: Strategic listening is goal-oriented and focused on achieving a specific outcome. It involves listening with a purpose, such as gathering information, solving a problem, or making a decision.
- Attentive Listening: Attentive listening is a higher level of engagement, where the listener is actively focused on the speaker and making an effort to understand the message. They may nod, make eye contact, and provide non-verbal cues to show that they are engaged.
- Reflective Listening: Reflective listening goes a step further by not only paying attention but also reflecting back what the speaker has said to ensure understanding. This can involve paraphrasing or summarizing the speaker’s message.
- Empathetic Listening: Empathetic listening involves not only understanding the words but also trying to understand the speaker’s feelings, emotions, and perspective. It requires a high level of empathy and the ability to connect emotionally with the speaker.
- Active Listening: Active listening combines several elements, including paying full attention, providing feedback, asking clarifying questions, and showing empathy. It is a dynamic and engaged form of listening that promotes effective communication.
How to Improve Your Listening Skills
Effective communication often requires moving toward higher levels of listening — emphatic and active listening — depending on the context and goals of the conversation. How do you develop emphatic and active listening skills? Here are five steps to effective listening, taught by Becoming Your Best:
- Look the person in the eyes
- Don’t worry about what you’re going to say next
- Pay attention to body language (what are they feeling?)
- Acknowledge them and what’s been said
- Repeat back and check for understanding
As you learn to effectively communicate you will improve your leadership, your work relationships, your productivity, your personal connection with those close to you, and your overall well-being. That’s becoming your best!
“Lead by listening – to be a good leader you have to be a great listener.” – Richard Branson
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