Types of Listening in Communication

The Importance of Listening

One can never underestimate the importance of listening in interpersonal communication. Whether at work or at a networking event with business associates, good listening skills play an essential part in professional growth. Listening helps you build robust connections with others. You also gain respect and esteem from people around you. When you listen, you demonstrate sincerity and an authentic approach to relationships.  

It’s essential to understand different types of listening and how to employ them in relevant situations. 

Effective types of listening

Listening plays a role in all the 7 c’s of communication– clarity, conciseness, concreteness, correctness, coherence, completeness, and courtesy. You can benefit greatly by learning about the different types of listening, strengthening relationships at work and personal lives.

Here are some primary types of listening, and their uses we must be aware of.

  • Comprehensive listening is when you listen carefully and give the speaker your complete attention. Also referred to as informational listening, you hear to gain insights on the subject of discussion. In this listening, you may also seek further clarifications or details to understand the message better. This type of listening is usually employed in work situations when an important subject is discussed related to a new business strategy,  at a training session or at a seminar. In interpersonal conversations, the contexts may vary slightly, but the underlying principles remain similar. 
  • Discriminative listening involves observing and identifying tonality, body language, and other elements of the communication process. It’s a process of discriminating among several nuances to decipher the meaning of what is being said by picking up verbal and non-verbal cues. In the context of workplace settings, we typically employ this type of listening when we are not entirely sure about what’s being said but rely more on other cues to understand the message better. An excellent example of this type of listening is when we find ourselves faced with someone who speaks a foreign language
  • Critical listening plays a vital role in workplaces because you are listening to assess the message’s credibility and the speaker. In this type of listening, you constantly measure and judge every word of what is being said, comparing points with the knowledge you may already possess on the subject. The objective is to assess the message and form your analysis and opinions. This type of listening is typically visible at brainstorming sessions, debates, and negotiations. An essential aspect of critical listening is the need for an open mind without preconceived judgments or prejudice. Critical listening usually involves immersive discussion and can help broaden your knowledge and improve your interpersonal skills. 
  • Therapeutic listening, also known as empathetic listening is commonly practiced by health professionals and counselors it usually involves listening to a person who wants to discuss their problems. We all tend to use therapeutic listening while listening to friends or colleagues sharing their concerns and seeking advice. It’s an efficient skill that helps us build a good rapport with colleagues at work and business associates. The key here is to impress upon the other person that you understand and appreciate the issues brought forth by the other person. In other words, the process involves being visibly empathetic.

In Conclusion

Adapting our listening skills according to the demands of each situation is the foundation on which strong relationships are built and nurtured. In reality, one may need to employ more than one type of listening at any given point in time. The important thing is to be engaged, reach out and connect with the other person. Bearing in mind, no matter the type; all listening requires us to be focused and give the speaker our full attention.