More Types Of Listening
Part Two

Part 2 - Part 1

The Listener Calls The Shots

Mastering the different types of listening helps us to meet the challenge of attempting to shed light on that mysterious phenomenon we call communication.

Sooner or later, on this journey of mind expansion, one realizes that the full responsibility of communication rests with the listener. A Human cannot be forced to listen.

The listener calls the shots

Genuine communication not only begins, but resides, with the listener. If, at any stage of a dialogue, one party does not comprehend the other, communication stalls. This predicament can only be rectified by the person doing the listening. 

A speaker may have the means – I hesitate to use the word authority - to jail a fellow Human and throw away the key for refusing to listen effectively.

But has communication, apart from establishing who the dominant party is, been accomplished?

A corollary is business and customers. No customers equals no business. No matter how sophisticated the business structure may be.

More Types Of Listening

Whether beneficial or detrimental to a given situation, the listener holds a most influential position.

He or she calls the shots on progress.

With this sobering thought in mind let’s explore how we can dramatically improve a situation by understanding the different types of listening better.

Empathetic listening

 Empathy is being aware of another person’s state of mind and responding in an understanding manner. Doing this requires one to be a mindful listener, delicately tapping into the emotions expressed by the speaker.

Listen mindfully

An empathetic listener is capable of showing compassion and concern by walking a mile, or two, or more, in the speakers shoes. Sharing warmth, encouraging the other party to talk by remaining silent. Or asking for more information at the appropriate time and responding tactfully to the speaker until a strong sense of rapport is established.

Often, another Human merely wants a receptive ear to act as a sounding board as he or she thinks aloud on a journey to resolving an issue. Solutions at this point are altogether premature.

The accomplished empathetic listener gets to the nub of the speaker’s problem without offering solutions. Instead the speaker discovers the solution in the course of the communication for his or her self. Guided by the compassion and concern of the empathetic listener and the growing rapport that this type of listening elicits.

Depending on the situation this can take much time. Empathetic listening covers the gamut of Human emotions, allowing an empathetic listener to share the speaker’s experience.


Mindfulness is an age old practice of Conscious Awareness, dating back some 2500 years, originating in Eastern Philosophy.

Only recently introduced to Western Culture – early 1960s - in the form of Transcendental Meditation, the complete Philosophy of Mindfulness is proving to be invaluable in Psychology, Cognitive Therapy, and Medicine.

Mindfulness is a lifestyle and is perfectly compatible with Personal Development.

A mindful person is both an observer and participant at the same time. You may recognize this state of awareness as ‘Flow’ or ‘being in the Zone’. Mindfulness is living in the moment, and is of immense benefit to all who practice it as a lifestyle.

The rewards of Mindfulness are substantial.

Reflective Listening

Reflective listening requests that we analyze what a speaker says – mostly in real time – then feed it back to them in our own words in such manner that they agree we actually do understand the message they are attempting to convey. It is not necessary to agree with a speaker's message, but it is necessary to understand their message.

In keeping with the complex nature of communication, understanding does not always come readily or immediately. This is not a fault on the part of either the speaker or listener. It is merely an indication that patience and further discussion is needed. Highlighting the value of reflective listening, making it one of the most useful of the different types of listening.

One can also use reflection and critical thinking in their own time on their own terms, to deepen their understanding. This approach allows one to resume communications with a fresh mind and renewed vigor. 

This is particularly useful if a communication breaks down, or stalemates.

So Cool

It is befitting to note that Alfred Vail, the man who organized the funding for the launching of  Samuel Morse’s Electric Telegraph - one of the first methods of reaching out to our fellow Humans over vast distance - used reflection and critical thinking to arrive at the decision that commercialized communication.

Attentive listening

Of all the types of listening, attentive listening almost always leads to effective listening which in turn leads to problem resolution and progress. The ability to listen attentively enhances a relationship and builds rapport.

Listen attentively, I’m sayin’ this once only

An attentive listener does not interrupt the speaker. Knowing it is better, by far, to let the speaker finish before responding.

This is particularly useful in situations such as negotiations, where the more one knows of the other party’s requirements the more effective can be the outcome.

As with the discriminative listener an attentive listener closely monitors a speaker’s facial expression and other body language signals and does not allow distractions to interrupt focusing on asking questions based on the speaker’s interests and needs.

An attentive listener is usually seeking information that will facilitate an outcome that renders a win win event, via a meeting of minds.

When we are in charge of our healthy ego, via being in charge of our emotions, all these types of listening can be mastered by logic. Elation or any other – positive of course – emotion, can be expressed when we can prove, beyond reasonable doubt, we have made the right decision.

Such is the complex nature of listening.

Critical listening

Akin to critical reading - which you should be engaged in now - and critical writing, accurate research and subject knowledge are crucial to critical listening.

Are these sources reliable, accurate, and trustworthy? Or do they consist of pompous spin doctoring, or worse, deception?

Critical listening is a paradox

Critical listening is one place where good judgment is essential. Particularly in light of the common occurrence of Humans taking on board false information which then becomes their fact.

We know false information by the name of fake news, fake product reviews etc. We also know fake is rampant. There is only one reason fake is rampant. We allow it it to be. This suggests critical listening, and other critical learning skills, are in short supply. Our critical judgment in general appears to be in serious need of sharpening.

Judgment is not to be confused with judgmental, which is undesirable listening behavior and a major way we block communication.

Good judgment leads to sound decisions. Being judgmental leads to misery.

Quite A Paradox

Critical listening is most important when we need to make decisions that have consequences affecting our, or others, well-being in life.

The Professional advisers and Service Providers we seek out must be both genuinely knowledgeable, and trustworthy in their delivery.

The best way to ensure we recognize this is by possessing knowledge and information of the very type we are seeking. Employing that knowledge we know to be true and accurate as a foundation to build further understanding upon.

This is without a doubt the most demanding of all types of listening.

If you have ever engaged in genuine research you will more than likely concur with this conclusion.

Critical listening may be difficult, and demanding, but we are begging to be hurt if we do not embrace it.

Knowing More Types of listening Rocks!

Part 2 - Part 1

Next - Types Of Listening Part Three

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