IT Best Practices

5 Styles of Effective Listening That Will Make You Smarter

Listening is deceptively more complicated than you might expect. How many times have you been nodding along to a conversation when in reality you’re just plotting the next thing you’re going to say? And there isn’t a single way of listening either. In a post at Project Bliss, Leigh Espy outlines five ways people listen to others and how you can utilize them:

  1. Appreciative
  2. Comprehensive
  3. Critical
  4. Discriminative
  5. Empathetic

Learning to Listen

The first form of listening is appreciative, and it’s the kind of listening you do when you genuinely care about what the other person has to say. Think of it as talking to a trusted friend or someone you admire: You listen to enjoy the content. Succeeding in this form of listening means being relaxed and giving cues that you’re engaged and listening.

While that form focuses on enjoying what was being said, comprehensive focuses more on what is being said. This is when you are receiving instructions or are trying to wrap your head around a new concept. This form of listening involves asking questions and rephrasing information to the speaker in order to clarify that you understand it. Sometimes you will need more information, so engaging with the speaker is the best way to make sure you understand what is being said.

Critical listening is when you listen to gather information and create your own opinion on what is being said. This form of listening is similar to comprehensive, but it takes the extra step of integrating that information into your own thoughts and attitudes.

Discriminative listening involves listening to find inconsistencies in a message. Some of these are nonverbal cues that betray different attitudes towards a subject. Make sure to ask questions when you see these.

The last form is empathetic, which is paying attention to the speaker’s emotions. Espy says what not to do as an empathetic listener and some tips on what you should do while listening:

• Don’t interrupt
• Don’t get defensive
• Don’t judge or label
• Don’t betray someone’s trust if they share something confidentially

Tips for better empathetic listening: Give clues that you’re listening, such as paraphrasing or using statements such as “that sounds like a tough situation.” Search for the feeling behind the words and state it back to the speaker. Ask for help understanding if you’re not clear. Don’t try to solve the problem right away, but instead listen for the feeling the speaker is experiencing.

You can view the original post here:

Austin J. Gruver

Austin is a Staff Writer for AITS. He has a background in professional writing from York College.

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