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Types of Listening – Learn to Communicate More Efficiently

We all know that one person who always talks about their problems, challenges, and life overall. The person that always leaves you with the feeling that they don’t listen to you at all. Are you ‘that person’ maybe?

Imagine communication as playing with the ball. It won’t be fun if you keep hitting someone all the time. The way you listen determines your responses and relationship with others.

All our life, we have been told to listen actively to people. However, this is not all when it comes to communicating efficiently. You need to know some more factors like what are the types of listening you are involved in.

Yes, there is no single type of listening; consciously or unconsciously, humans fall into a specific type.

types of listening - man and woman talking

Benefits of Listening

Knowing how to be a good listener is a crucial skill for business and relationships with other people. Individuals with good listening skills are more productive and also successful at work while being better partners and colleagues. 

The main benefits of listening are:

  • better relationships
  • building trust
  • good first impression
  • respect

To fully understand different types of listening and the category you fall into, make sure to stay with us until the end of this article.

Here are our seven types of listening you should know about:

#1 – Appreciative Listening

Appreciate listening is a type of listening where a person listens to fulfill their needs, obligations, or certain goals. For example – if you are attending a TED talk of your favorite motivational speaker, you involve yourself in appreciative listening. 

This is the type of listening where you listen to someone you enjoy learning from. In this situation, you are gaining some entertainment and enjoyment. 

Here are some examples of appreciative listening:

  • podcasts
  • music
  • motivational speakers
  • audiobooks

There are three main factors of appreciative listening – perception, presentation, and prior experiences.

When you listen – your perception determines the way that you feel about the topic and the speaker. 

Delivery is also an extremely important segment. As you know, it’s completely different when we listen to someone talking on the stage and listening to the same speech on television. 

Similar to perception, our experiences are the third factor that influences the way we are listening. Just keep in mind that we should be open to hearing someone else and learning new things despite our past experiences. 

types of listening - appreciative listening

#2 – Critical Listening

Critical listening is a form of listening where you use logic to evaluate what the other person is trying to tell you. Critical listening is trying to understand what the other person is talking about while analyzing and using your judgment.

An advantage of such listening is that you do not believe in illogical communications and are based on opinions; rather, you go for a fact check. However, some people believe that the judgments in critical thinking are a barrier to understanding communication. 

On the other hand, when critically listening, you are also critically thinking. You are making conscious evaluations based on what you see and hear. 

Example: You are about to start a new hobby, pool, for example. As a critical listener, your goal is to ask someone who plays pool everything about the place they are training, coaches, types of equipment, etc. This way, you can listen carefully, evaluate the options and choose the best one for you.

Here are the steps to become better at critical thinking:

  • gather all the information
  • try to understand where is the speaker coming from
  • think in reverse 
  • don’t be too quick in making judgments

#3 – Biased Listening

Biased listening (selective listening) is a type of listening when an individual only listens to hear what he wants to hear from the speaker. 

As the name suggests, you involve yourself in little listening to validate the already present biases in your mind. 

Biased listening is completely different from critical listening since we don’t evaluate the speaker’s words but look for the confirmation of our own thoughts.

Humans are likely to misinterpret the speakers’ message because of prior experiences, ideas, beliefs, and opinions. Therefore, you do analyze what they are saying but in your way.

An advantage of little listening is that your previously available biases get validated. However, you are not open to new beliefs and messages as a biased listener, so that would be a huge disadvantage. 

#4 – Discriminative Listening

One of the most basic types of listening is discriminative listening. In this type, the listener pays attention to the sound, specifically the volume, pitch, and stress, rather than the speaker’s words. Here you specifically recognize and interpret the accents of different people.

You can apply discriminative listening when people are speaking a foreign language that you don’t understand. Then, though you don’t speak the language, you can rely on voice and delivery to pick up a vague meaning.

Example: If a friend of yours is trying to act happy in front of you, but the sound of his voice is enough to tell you that he is sad, you can use discriminative listening to realize that there is something wrong.

sympathetic listening

#5 – Empathetic Listening

In this listening type, you listen to the other person without judging by placing yourself in their position and responding accordingly. As a result, you actually build an emotional and intellectual in-depth connection with the speaker.

Advantages include:

  • strengthening your relationships by being empathetic
  • building trust
  • releasing the tension of the speaker

Here are our 4 tips on how to be better at empathetic listening:

  1. listen carefully and give your best to understand the person’s feelings
  2. remove all distractions and be present
  3. don’t judge the speaker
  4. show that you are interested by asking thoughtful questions

#6 – Relationship Listening

Relationship listening is the type of listening when you listen to the other person with the motive of building or sustaining a relationship. This prototype can include interpersonal relationships as well as business relationships too.

Example: You are ‘relationship listening’ if you are trying to learn about your partner’s likes and dislikes so that you can build a better romantic relationship.

#7 – Sympathetic Listening

Sympathetic listening is one of the most common types of listening. That is our way of showing that we care about the person and their story. An example would be talking about someone’s fears and stress at home or at work. 

You can also show sympathy and care through body language and various gestures.

woman listens to someone

Your Turn!

Listening is an extremely important skill you should master to have deeper connections, meaningful and successful relationships, and much more. By listening, we are learning about people, new topics, and the world around us. 

What are the most common types of listening that you are applying?

Feel free to let us know in the comments down below!

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