Have you ever found yourself stuck in a conversation that you want to end, but can’t? Perhaps someone is talking about their day in excruciating detail. Or maybe you’re attending a presentation on a subject that doesn’t interest you.

You are forced to sit quietly as the speaker drones on and on. In situations like these, you may think you are listening, but you’re not. Your mind is totally occupied by how bored you are and how much you wish to get away. If you were really listening, your attention would have been focused on the speaker and you would have been busy absorbing the content of their speech.

The Different Types Of Listening

There are different types of listening in communication based on your circumstances and intent. You’ve probably used them all at one point or another without even realizing it. Let’s look at them in detail.

  1. Informational listening 

This type of listening is about paying close attention to the speaker and trying to gain as much information from them as possible. Informational listening is widely used in education, where students learn by listening intently to lectures, seminars and other forms of knowledge dissemination.

Think back to your own college lectures, when you would listen to your teachers attentively. You would make notes about everything you considered important and ask questions when you needed further clarification. The informational listening that you practiced enriched you with new insights and knowledge.

  1. Biased listening

As the name suggests, we only hear what we want to when we practice biased listening. Or rather, we interpret what other people say to fit in with what we want to hear. Most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing so.

This is among the kinds of listening that happens in the workplace or in personal relationships. Say you have a deadline that you want your boss to extend. So you have a conversation about it and even though your boss has not expressly given you more time, you go away believing that they have. Similarly, if you’re looking for appreciation in a feedback session, you remember the positive things your manager says and ignore the negative comments.

  1. Critical listening

This involves listening carefully and critically to any information that is conveyed to you. You listen to what someone says, ignore the unimportant bits and analyze and use what’s most relevant to your line of work.

This is among the types of listening skills that are very important in the business world. Team leaders and managers make quick decisions and develop solutions using their critical listening skills.

  1. Sympathetic listening 

This is one of the essential types of listening in communication. Sympathetic listening is our way of showing that we understand and care about what the other person is saying. It is used most often during sensitive or personal conversations. Remember, your care and sympathy should also be conveyed through your body language and all the nonverbal cues you emit.

You use sympathetic listening, for instance. when coworkers tell you about their stress or financial problems or when a colleague shares her dismay at receiving negative feedback from her manager.

  1. Empathetic listening 

This is similar to sympathetic listening but goes deeper than just feeling bad for the other person. Listening empathetically to someone means putting yourself in their shoes to understand what they’re saying and feeling, and conveying that understanding to them.

Think about the feeling of joy you get when a hardworking colleague tells you about a well-deserved promotion or the sadness you feel when a bright junior says he’s decided to move on. It is important to listen empathetically during emotional and high-stakes conversations.

Well, these are just some types of listening. They have a place in our professional as well as personal lives. It’s essential to know when to use which type of listening skill so that you can gain information, avoid miscommunication and strengthen your relationships. Harappa Education’s Listening Actively course is the perfect resource to help you hone your listening skills. Sign up for the course today to become the listener everybody wants to talk to!

Explore topics such as Active Listening, Qualities of a Good Listener, Listening Barriers, How to Improve Listening Skills & Listening Process from our Harappa Diaries blog section to ace your skills.

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