Improve Your Communication with Effective Listening

There are times when you want to hear what someone is saying and
there are times when you don’t.  Let’s face it you can become a
different kind of listener depending on the situation.  At work your
ability to listen effectively can mean the difference between making
zero mistakes and making many, getting the project done on time or
getting it done late.  The honest truth is if you want to improve your
efficiency and productivity at the office, you’re going to have to
become a more effective listener.  There are five types of listeners,
which type are you most of the time?

Pretend Listener

A pretend listener is someone who frankly isn’t focused at all.  The
person may stand with a blank stare at the speaker’s lips and tries to
say “uh, huh” and “sure” at the right moments.  But, if you asked the
person to repeat the conversation, they wouldn’t be able to recall a
single sentence.  Pretending to listen is the most ineffective form of
communication.  If you’re doing this at work, you’re missing all the

Selective Listener

Selective is similar to pretend listening.  Once again the person may
stand blank faced in front of the speaker daydreaming, until the
speaker says something that brings the listener back into the
conversation.  Usually something of interest will trigger them to focus
on what is being said and they become able to respond.  However, once
the speaker moves onto another subject they tune out again.  This type
of listener selects which pieces of information they will hear. 

When you find yourself selectively listening you are only getting
parts of the important information you need.  When you find yourself
tuning in and out of a conversation, use active listening skills to help
you focus.  This requires that you eliminate physical distractions from
your line of vision, maintain eye contact, nod and respond
appropriately to the speaker, and keep your mind from wondering.

Attentive Listener

The attentive listener is actively trying to focus on the words
coming out of the speaker’s mouth.  This person is trying so hard that
they are missing the non-verbal cues that help to understand the
message.  These cues include facial expression, body language, and tone
of voice.  These elements help to convey the feeling and sentiment of
the information given and are necessary for complete communication.

Interactive Listener

This person is truly involved in the conversation.  However, they are
only interested in the information in regards to how it relates to
their life and experiences.  For example, the interactive listener
listens to a co-worker explain a problem with a customer.  Instead of
listening for how they can help the co-worker, they’re mind is focused
on how they had a similar experience with a customer. This person is
anxious for the speaker to stop talking so they’ll have their chance to
speak and explain what they went through with their customer. This type
of listener has trouble because they prefer to be on the speaking end of
the conversation.

Empathetic Listener

This type of listener listens tentatively to the speaker without
allowing their mind to wonder or tuning out of the conversation.  This
individual is not actively thinking of how they will respond while the
speaker is talking.  The empathetic listener pays attention to content,
and focuses on non-verbal communication.  In order to reach true
communication with someone at work or home you must be able to listen
without your own agenda.  Your greatest gift to the speaker is to be
able to respond appropriately when it is your turn to speak because you
truly heard them.

Angela Huffmon.


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