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The Four Stages of the Listening Process Video

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  • 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
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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.

In most cases, the responding stage will follow. This is where you take the meaningful message and react to it by sending your own message or response, changing your behavior or even making a non-verbal gesture. Finally, remembering takes place and involves storing the information for use at a later time.

Active Listening

The process sounds fairly easy, and it really is not difficult if you're an active listener. Active listening requires an awareness of the messages and distraction avoidance.

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