A World Without Racism Listens

The Different Types of Listening

Most people know what it means to listen, but do you know that there are seven main types of listening? In an article published on MasterClass titled 7 Types of Listening: How Listening Styles Help You Communicate, the author analyzes and explains the various types of listening as well as how we see them demonstrated in real life. By learning about the various types of listening and how they are unique, we are able to grow overall in our communication skills. However, these concepts may be more complicated than initially expected. When explaining the two categories in which listening is broken down into, the author writes, “In general the different types of listening can be categorized as either evaluative listening (which is analytical and logical) or reflective listening (which is emotionally driven).” No type is better than the other, rather they are each unique and advantageous based on the situation on hand. Think of each listening type as a tool in your communication tool belt, each having its own advantage given a certain circumstance. 

Seven of the Most Common Listening Styles:

  1.   Discriminative listening – This is the first form of listening that we as humans develop and it begins once we are born. The idea comes from the fact that babies cannot understand words yet, however, they depend on their discriminative listening in order to make out the voice and tone being spoken to them. We also see this when one individual is around others who are speaking a different language. This listening method relies on the observation of body language in order to attempt to grasp the messages communicated, rather than by the language itself.
  2.   Comprehensive listening – Comprehensive listening develops during early adolescence and focuses on the words themselves that are being spoken. Therefore, this level of listening requires basic language and vocabulary skills in order to grasp what is being communicated. This type of listening is essentially the umbrella category which includes most other forms of listening types that critical listeners use.
  3.   Informational listening – This type of listening is seen when individuals are attempting to learn and retain new information. It builds on comprehensive listening and demands undivided attention and involvement in order to fully grasp the complex concepts and language being used. Informational listening is less about the actual material rather it focuses on following along with the thought process and logic which is being shared.
  4.   Critical listening – Critical listening is the style of listening in which individuals are attempting to examine and determine the intricate information being conveyed. We mostly see this listening in problem-solving scenarios.  
  5.   Biased listening – Biased listening which is also known as selective listening is demonstrated when someone is listening for what they want to hear rather than what is being communicated. This listening differs from critical thinking since the listener is simply looking to validate preconceived biases. Individuals who actively utilize this type of listening are often oblivious to it and tend to be subconsciously close-minded. As a result, this can lead to a total misinterpretation of the facts and material being communicated. 
  6.   Sympathetic listening – Sympathetic listening is an emotionally led relationship type of listening. The listener practices compassion by taking in the thoughts and feelings communicated by the speaker, and attempts to give support through empathy and understanding. This specific type of listening is crucial when individuals are attempting to form deeper relationships, especially if the speaker is going through tough times.
  7.   Therapeutic listening & empathetic listening – Therapeutic listening is when the listener empathizes and attempts to grasp the perspective of the speaker by putting themselves in the speaker’s shoes. Empathetic listening builds on therapeutic listening by taking the listening one step further through empathizing with the speaker and their struggles.

What other ways do you spread the listening philosophy? Please click here to share your ideas, we’d all love to learn more ways to listen! Take care and stay connected.