Types of Listening Skills

2nd February 2022 0 By indiafreenotes

Listening is perhaps the most important of all interpersonal skills and Skills You Need has many pages devoted to the subject, see Listening Skills for an introduction.

Discriminative Listening

Discriminative listening is first developed at a very early age perhaps even before birth, in the womb.  This is the most basic form of listening and does not involve the understanding of the meaning of words or phrases but merely the different sounds that are produced. In early childhood, for example, a distinction is made between the sounds of the voices of the parents the voice of the father sounds different to that of the mother.

Discriminative listening develops through childhood and into adulthood.  As we grow older and develop and gain more life experience, our ability to distinguish between different sounds is improved. Not only can we recognise different voices, but we also develop the ability to recognise subtle differences in the way that sounds are made this is fundamental to ultimately understanding what these sounds mean.  Differences include many subtleties, recognising foreign languages, distinguishing between regional accents and clues to the emotions and feelings of the speaker.

Informational Listening

Whenever you listen to learn something, you are engaged in informational listening.  This is true in many day-to-day situations, in education and at work, when you listen to the news, watch a documentary, when a friend tells you a recipe or when you are talked-through a technical problem with a computer there are many other examples of informational listening too.

Although all types of listening are ‘active’ they require concentration and a conscious effort to understand. Informational listening is less active than many of the other types of listening.

Empathic Listening

When you listen empathically you are doing so to show mutual concern. During this type of listening, you are trying to identify with the speaker by understanding the situation in which he/she is discussing. You are stepping into the other’s shoes to get a better understanding of what it is he/she is talking about. Usually during this type of listening you want to be fully present in the moment or mindfully listening to what the speaker is saying. Your goal during this time is to focus on the speaker, not on yourself. You are trying to understand from the speaker’s perspective.

Appreciative Listening

When you listen for appreciation, you are listening for enjoyment. Think about the music you listen to. You usually listen to music because you enjoy it. The same can be said for appreciative listening when someone is speaking. Some common types of appreciative listening can be found in sermons from places of worship, from a motivational speech by people we respect or hold in high regard, or even from a stand-up comedian who makes us laugh.

Comprehensive Listening

If you are watching the news, listening to a lecture, or getting directions from someone, you are listening to understand or listening to comprehend the message that is being sent. This process is active. In class, you should be focused, possibly taking notes of the speaker’s main ideas. Identifying the structure of the speech and evaluating the supports he/she offers as evidence. This is one of the more difficult types of listening because it requires you to not only concentrate but to actively participate in the process. The more you practice listening to comprehend, the stronger listener you become.

Critical Listening

Have you ever had to buy an expensive item, such as a new appliance, a car, a cell phone, or an iPad? You probably did some research beforehand and listened closely to the salesperson when you went to compare brands. Or perhaps your best friend is telling you about some medical tests he/she recently had done. You listen closely so you can help your friend understand her results and the possible ramifications of the findings. Both of these scenarios are examples of critical listening. Critical listening is listening to evaluate the content of the message. As a critical listener you are listening to all parts of the message, analyzing it, and evaluating what you heard. When engaging in critical listening, you are also critically thinking. You are making mental judgments based on what you see, hear, and read. Your goal as a critical listener is to evaluate the message that is being sent and decide for yourself if the information is valid.