Learning Selective Listening: 5 Critical Listening Styles

by | Apr 12, 2012 | Leadership

Have you ever been accused of “selective hearing” … you know the process that happens when you don’t want to hear something. To some degree, selective hearing is real. There are actually five different ways we listen. Here are the five listening styles.

  1. Appreciative listening. Listening for enjoyment … perhaps at a concert or a play or even church on Sunday morning. 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. Enjoying the experience… that’s Appreciative Listening.
  2. Empathic listening. This is listening to the hurts or pains of another individual and providing support and understanding. This is the way we would listen to a friend who is grieving the loss of a loved one or some other heartbreak. This is also the way you listen when you are counseling. It’s a passionate, heartfelt style of listening where by your attention and body language are creating an emotional bond. Sharing the emotion… that’s Empathic Listening.
  3. Discerning listening. This is used when you want to gather information. You are looking for the memorable nuggets in the volume of information that is being communicated to you. Each time you hear a nugget, you store it away for another time. Often nuggets are stored by taking notes. Collecting nuggets… that’s Discerning Listening.
  4. Comprehensive listening. This style goes beyond just collecting nuggets of information. The comprehensive listener seeks to understand and organize the nuggets into useful information. Often, dialogue is necessary to deepen the understanding. Gaining understanding … that’s Comprehensive Listening.
  5. Evaluative listening. This is the process of assessing information for the purpose of making a decision. Nuggets of information are compared against known facts and historical experience to determine your course of action. Listening to decide… that’s Evaluative Listening.

Your style of listening will change from time to time. It is important to be sensitive to the need to listen different ways. When your listening style is inappropriate for the occasion, problems often occur. Learn to listen in the way that is appropriate for the moment and you can change selective hearing into selective listening.

Click Here for more information on Listening Styles and its impact in media and brand communication!

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Mark Dreistadt
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