Types of Listening in Communication


Communication is one of the most important aspects of a professional’s life. Whether you are a student in a classroom, executive in a boardroom, or customer relations officer conversing with a customer, attentive and active listening is extremely important. If you don’t pay attention to the speaker, chances are you might miss some important facts or details. The majority of work depends on communication. Even if one works in settings where they are not in a customer-facing position, they are still required to refine attentive listening skills to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

Inattentive listening causes miscommunication in the forms of confusion, partial understanding, and can manifest in workflow problems, delegation issues, and hampered work experience. As we all know, inattentive listening is not only bad for your work routine but is also very demeaning and rude to the speaker. One must incorporate active listening skills to excel in professional life.

There are two major types of listening –

  1. Effective listening

In channels of communication, such as non-verbal communication, paying complete attention is extremely important. When you are conversing with someone in person or over a video call, it is essential that you pay attention to how the speaker is conveying the information. Here, listening is not merely the action of mentally registering soundwaves, but also visually ‘feeling’ the message of the other person. Some of the types of effective listening include comprehensive listening, therapeutic listening, full listening, and deep listening.

a. Comprehensive listening is where you pay attention to the entirety of the conversation and form your opinion based on your deep-rooted internal belief system. It allows you to judge whether the person is good or bad, right or wrong, based on your understanding and learnings.

b. Therapeutic listening involves listening to the other person thoroughly, picking up various cues, and leading the conversation peacefully. The most important thing in therapeutic listening is expressing empathy.

c.  Full listening allows you to form an opinion about the entirety of the conversation. By paying attention to the entire conversation, you have enough information to chime in where you feel necessary.

d.  Deep listening goes one step further than full listening. It involves a thoughtful, well-understood exchange of ideas based on the insights gained by listening to the other party.


2.            Ineffective listening

Partial listening is one of the best examples of ineffective listening. If you don’t pay attention to the speaker or selectively pay attention, you are bound to miss some things. These may turn out to be important facts, details, data, numbers, or dates. One of the most important things to understand is that listening involves systematic data processing. You may hear everything that is being said, but it is important to understand and remember what is being said. Ineffective listening occurs because one processes the received information in a selective way. Some of the types of ineffective listening include selective listening, partial listening, and fake listening.

a.  Selective listening is a method where you filter the message or the content of the speaker’s speech in a way that is easier for you to understand. This can lead to misunderstandings and differences in opinions. You cannot form a holistic opinion because you pay attention to the selective parts of the speech.

b.  Partial listening happens when you are required or even want to pay attention to the other person but are distracted. If your attention is elsewhere, you are bound to miss chunks of conversation. The internal noise may hamper your ability to pay complete attention to the speaker. Not only is this type of listening ineffective and hazardous, but also unpleasant for the speaker.

c.  False listening in when one pretends to listen to the speaker but is actually not paying attention at all. When you are utterly distracted and can’t pay attention to anything that is being said, you are bound to miss important details and even the general flow of the conversation. It is considered extremely rude and unprofessional to behave in such a way. Taking a small break and refreshing yourself would be a good option in situations such as these.

All forms of listening have a place in our lives, but it’s helpful to know which ones we should be developing and building, and which ones we might need to stop doing so much of.

Now that you know the main types of listening, you can examine the style of communication you’re most comfortable with and start branching out!