Are you a good listener? You’re not learning if you’re doing all the talking, and far too many people think they need to talk to get noticed. So I asked the founder and CEO of Infinity Concepts, Mark Dreistadt, the secrets of listening well. Have you ever been accused of “selective hearing?” You know – the process that happens when you intentionally don’t want to hear something. Well, there are actually five different ways we listen. So here’s the 5 secrets to what Mark calls “Selective Listening” – how many have you experienced?
1. Appreciative listening. This is 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 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 is 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 memorable thought or phrase, you store it away for another time, often 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 based on your circumstances. It is important to be sensitive to the situation and to listen appropriately. When your listening style is inappropriate for the occasion, problems often occur. Have you ever experienced this? What happened?