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Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Three Different Levels of Listening

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Listening skills is one of the key essential ingredients in effective communication. There exist many different levels of listening, from listening on and off, to active listening.

When we are engaged in a conversation, it is extremely easy to pay little to no attention to what the other person is actually saying. We can easily become distracted by other thoughts and things which are happening around us. We might even be thinking about what we are going to say next.

Let us consider the breakdown of the various common elements involved in communication.

40% - Listening
35% - Talking
16% - Reading
9% - Writing

Thus we can clearly observe that listening is indeed an important communication skill which has to be learnt.

Listening gives our loved ones the feeling of being appreciated and respected. Ordinary conversations emerge on a deeper level, as do our relationships. When we listen, we foster the skill in others by acting as a model for positive and effective communication.

Many people believe themselves to be good listeners, but in reality, there is always room for substantial improvement. Tests have shown that, on average, normal adult human beings only really hear ONE THIRD of the words spoken to them.

All of us listen in different ways at different times. We listen better in some situations than in others. For example, some people listen effectively in the job, but stop listening when they get home.

Each level of listening requires a certain level of concentration and sensitivity. These levels are general categories into which people fall.

Depending on the situation or the person, these different levels of listening may mix together. In this article, i have categorized the levels of listening into three different levels.

As we move from level one to level three, our potential for understanding, retention and effective communication increases. We began to develop our listening style very early in life. As we grow older, we continue to strengthen our listening habits and patterns.

How many of us give any thought to our own personal listening style? The following may help you to evaluate your listening approach in most situations.

Level One

This basic level includes

- Listening on and off

- Tuning in and tuning out

- Being aware of the presence of others, but mainly paying attention to yourself.

- Half listening. Following the discussion only long enough to get a chance to talk.

- Quiet, passive listening

- Listening, but not responding. Little effort is made to listen; actually, hearing is going on but very little real listening is going on.

Often, a person at this level is making believe that he is paying more attention while really, he or she is thinking of other things. They are generally more interested in talking, rather than listening.

Level Two

At the second level, the individual hears sounds and words, but does not really listen deeply. At this level, people stay at the surface of communication and do not listen to the deeper meaning of what is being said.

They are trying to hear what the speaker is saying, but they are not making the effort to understand what the speaker means. They tend to be more concerned with content rather than feelings. They do not really participate in the conversation.

This level of listening can be dangerous because misunderstandings may occur since the listener is only slightly concentrating on what is said. At level three, it is obvious that the person is not listening by the way the person acts; however, at level two, this is harder to tell and the speaker may have the false sense that the other person is really listening, when he is not.

Level Three

This level includes active listening. At this level, people try to put themselves in the speakers place - they try to see things from the other person's point of view.

Some characteristics of this level include: taking in only the main ideas, acknowledging and answering, not letting yourself be distracted, paying attention to the speaker's total communication - including body language.

Active listening requires that you listen not only for the content of what is being spoken but, more importantly, for what the meaning and feelings of the speaker are. You do this by showing that you are really listening both verbally and nonverbally.

It is ironic that the passive skill of listening is a core component of good communication. Listen skills is an important step to developing your communication skills. Posts like "Establishing Effective Communication Skills" highlights the importance of listening skills in communication. Interpersonal skills are indeed important in our everyday life. With time and practice, you will definitely before a more effective and successful communicator.

If you have enjoyed this post, don't forget to bookmark it. Thanks.

You might also be interested in
Who's Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success--and Won't Let You Fail
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4 comments:

Patricia said...

Active listening is so important in the development of good relationships. Listen more, talk less might be a good motto for better relationships.

Self-esteem Blog for Women said...

Excellent information.
Is listening a learned behavior or does it go hand in hand with our own character?
Ones level of ability to listen may also be part of their own character. Eg...a person who is hyper...or preoccupied may not have the ability to listen at more than a first or second level.

A person who is more laid back and more of a procrastinator may easily have a level three ability.
I guess we can once again ask...which came first...the chicken or the egg?:)

Kudos on your topic and its very well rounded information!

Have a very positive day!
DorothyL

indocontest said...

Great Article.
I agree with Patricia, listening is very important in the development of good relationships.

Interpersonal Communication Skills said...

Great post! Listening is sometimes a lot more important than speaking, yet it is something that is normally neglected.