Three Types of Listening
Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication; without the ability to listen effectively messages is easily misunderstood – communication breaks down and the people can become frustrated or irritated.
Listening is not the same as hearing. Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that: it requires focus. When you listen you paying attention not only to the story, but to how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body. You are aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages. Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages.
Level 1: Internal listening
At this level:
- we hear what the other person is saying, but we are more focused on listening to our own thoughts and how we will respond
- we are more focused on what we think or feel than the other person
- and we are not totally ‘present’ in the conversation,
Level 2: Active listening;
At this level we listen for facts, meaning, and intention. This level leads to a common understanding about what is being said and what the other person wants to achieve. At this level:
- we are totally focused on what the person is saying, giving them our full attention
- We use techniques such as paraphrasing or asking questions to confirm understanding.
Level 3: Observational listening
This is a much deeper level of listening. At this level we are totally focused on what the person is saying and:
- we are attuned to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice
- we are more likely to identify the other person’s feelings
- We are aware of the impact of our communication on the other person.
At this level, we are able to help the other person understand their own feelings and views by reflecting what they are saying back to them.
Listening is a skill that you can and should develop. Listening allows you understand what the other person is saying, their point of view and helps you to get to know them. So learn to listen and practice how you listen for closer, better and more robust relationships.
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