The Four Stages of the Listening Process

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Types of Listening: Pseudo-, Appreciative, Empathetic, Comprehensive & Critical

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 What Does It Mean to Listen?
  • 0:39 Reasons We Listen
  • 1:33 Four Stages of Listening
  • 2:32 Active Listening
  • 3:02 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

As messages are sent to us, it seems as though we simply hear and react, but there is actually a process that our brains use to process the information. It begins with attending, then interpreting, responding and finally remembering the information.

What Does It Mean to Listen?

So, your friend is telling you all about her new boyfriend. She describes his shiny dark hair, buff physique and zippy sports car. With a half an ear, you hear what she is saying. But are you really listening?

Let's see. Listening involves taking the words and sounds we hear and converting them into something that makes sense to us. By this, we attach meaning to the words and sentences.

Since your friend has the boyfriend and not you, it may not be that important to know every detail. Had your friend mentioned that her new beau has a twin brother who is also single, things may be different.

Reasons We Listen

We listen for a few reasons. For one, we listen to gather information about something. In the scenario of the single brother, you may be all ears! That is mostly because the message being sent has meaning to you, like a potential date on Saturday night!

We also listen to understand. Think about a time you needed driving directions. As the Good Samaritan guides you through a few lefts and rights, you are attending to his every word.

Sometimes, we listen for enjoyment. A good joke or maybe some juicy gossip comes your way. As the messages are being sent, you are mostly attentive because it's fun. Well, so long as you are not on the business end of the message, anyway!

Learning new things requires that we listen. If your professor presents a new concept, it is wise to heed his message. Believe it or not, listening is actually a process.

Four Stages of Listening

When a message is sent to us, we move through four stages in order to fully understand and retain what we heard, and it goes like this:

  • Attending
  • Interpreting
  • Responding
  • Remembering

In the attending stage, we are actually gathering the words and sentences in our brain to be used in the next stage. Think of the words and sentences as if they were boxes and packages on a store shelf. Unsure of what you will do with each of the products, you just toss each into your shopping cart. Then, you enter the interpreting stage. In this stage, you begin to make meaning of the words and sentences.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account