Effective communication is not just dependent on two or more people taking turns talking. Instead, effective communication requires focused listening. You might already know that listening and hearing are two different things. While it’s true that listening requires that you are able to hear, effective listening also requires other important things — such as focus, understanding, and efficient interpretation of what you hear.
Effective listening leads to effective communication. It enables you to have a better understanding of what is being said, to correctly interpret the context of what the speaker is saying, and improve your relationships and overall social skills. Effective listening also helps boost productivity. Learning to listen effectively does not only help you with your personal life and relationships, but it is also useful in your business and career.
Unfortunately, not all people are good listeners. In fact, there are only very few people who have mastered the art of effective listening.
There are several types of listeners, all with different levels of listening skills. In this article, we will identify the four common types of listeners whom we often encounter in our daily lives.
The 4 common types of listeners
1. The Non-Listener
Non-listeners do not have the intention of listening to you in the first place. They do not make an effort to pay attention to the speaker, and they do not hear what the speaker is saying, as if they can purposefully detach themselves from the conversation and tune out the words. Usually, non-listeners would rather do the talking, constantly interrupt the speaker, and often want to have the last word in a conversation.
It is easy to spot a non-listener because they usually have that blank look on their faces while you are speaking. Sometimes, they make unnecessary, nervous mannerisms. There are times when they pretend to listen by nodding absentmindedly, but when asked a question directly, they will be caught off-guard and make an out-of- the-topic response.
2. The Superficial Listener
Superficial listeners hear the words you’re saying but cannot fully understand the point you are making. They listen only to the basic meaning of the words spoken but are oblivious to the body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, and other forms of non-verbal communication being used in a conversation.
Superficial listeners have difficulty concentrating because they are busy thinking about what to say next. They are more dangerous than non-listeners because they can pretend that they understand what you are saying. However, they usually avoid difficult discussions or will find an excuse to get out of the conversation.
3. The Logical Listener
Logical listeners hear the words that you are saying and make an effort to understand the literal meaning of your words. However, they are usually oblivious to the intent and context of what you are saying, and fail to understand the meaning between the lines.
They usually have the tendency to ignore other forms of communication being used by the speaker — such as facial expression, vocal intonation, body language, and gestures. Most often than not, the speakers feel like they are misunderstood when talking to logical listeners. This type of listener needs to focus and develop their emotional skills more to be able to understand better.
4. The Active Listener
Active listeners have the highest level of listening skills and they are the ideal kind of listeners for effective communication. To actively listen, you need to put in a lot of concentration and emotional effort.
They won’t judge you as you speak, and they will try their best to understand the context of what you’re saying, to read between the lines, and see the meaning of the words through the speaker’s point of view. They aim to understand not just the literal meaning of the words being spoken, but most especially the intent behind those words, and the emotions and thoughts of the speaker while saying them.
Which type of listener are you?
Now that you know the four common types of listeners, it would be easier to identify which type of listener you are. Please note, however, that a person can be more than one type of listener, depending on the person they are communicating with and other circumstances that may affect their listening abilities.
For instance, if you are truly disinterested in the topic being discussed and you find it extremely boring, then it would be a real challenge for you to be an active listener. Also, if the one who is speaking is someone whom you do not like, your prejudice may prevent you from listening effectively to what the other person is saying. On the other hand, if you like the topic and/or the speaker, then actively listening will not be a problem at all.
For every communication to become effective, however, it’s essential to work on your personal listening skills and try to keep yourself engaged in a conversation. This is especially essential for those communications that are crucial to your personal life (like a talk with a partner) and to your business or career (like a discussion with a boss).
“If we just try harder to listen actively to one another, perhaps this will help make the world a better place.”
On common, everyday conversations, which type of listener do you think you are?