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

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  • 0:05 Types of Listening
  • 0:58 Pseudo-Listening
  • 1:46 Appreciative Listening
  • 2:36 Empathetic Listening
  • 3:31 Comprehensive Listening
  • 4:28 Critical Listening
  • 5:12 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.

Although people communicate by sending a message to a receiver, the message is received in different ways depending on the information. Different types of listening styles help us effectively understand messages we receive.

Types of Listening

Let's face it; we hear a lot of noise all day. At work, in school or on the streets, there is a constant barrage of chatter going on. Sometimes, it is difficult to absorb all of the information thrown at us.

In fact, it takes skill to differentiate the information and choose the appropriate listening style. Hearing is uncontrollable. Listening takes a special knack.

Lucky for us, there are several listening styles we can employ, depending on the type of message we receive:

  • Pseudo listening
  • Appreciative listening
  • Empathetic listening
  • Comprehensive listening
  • Critical listening

It all comes down to our ears and our brain! Noise moves through our ears, sends a signal to our brain and our brain tries to make sense of it.

Let's check out a few ways in which we actually receive the messages.

Pseudo Listening

So, your cubicle partner is droning on about how her cat has the cutest spots on his face and likes to chase his tail and eats only canned tuna and on and on. You nod, smile and occasionally say something agreeable.

In reality, you are probably pseudo listening, and this is pretending to listen but not really absorbing anything from the conversation. Believe it or not, we do this for many reasons. For the co-worker's cat story, perhaps you just didn't want to put forth the effort into listening.

Sometimes, the information we receive is something we just don't want to hear. If you are not a football fan, you may not appreciate the sports segment on the evening news. If you enjoy sports, you'd be likely to listen to game results in a much different way.

Appreciative Listening

Appreciative listening happens when we enjoy the message, like listening to your favorite song.

There are a few reasons we practice appreciative listening. The presentation itself may be appealing to us. Nobody wants to listen to someone who grates on our nerves. So, if the presentation is appealing, we will likely relish the experience more.

Our perceptions have much to do with appreciative listening. Some people are just not big fans of opera. They may feel it's too dramatic or complicated. That perception may change if introduced to a more modern style of opera.

Sometimes past experiences affect listening. A song from childhood may bring back pleasant memories, making it more likely that we will appreciate listening to the tune again. If a not-so-pleasant message is sent, it may require a more compassionate listening skill.

Empathetic Listening

Bad news is just a part of life. When a friend shares something unpleasant with you, empathetic listening is probably the best way to go. It involves emotionally connecting with another person using compassion.

Don't mistake it for sympathy. Empathy is different. It is about understanding another person, seeing the situation through their eyes. When we listen with empathy, we are less interested in facts. Our goal is to grasp the situation as they feel it.

  • I can see how this would upset you.
  • Do you want to talk about your pain?
  • Tell me about your pain.
  • Uh-huh, it must be difficult to have a broken leg.

In other words, be attentive to the speaker. Take an active approach. If words do not seem necessary, use non-verbal cues to let the person speaking know that you understand their situation.

When the message we are receiving is informative, we take a different approach.

Comprehensive Listening

When your favorite celebrity chef is making a recipe you have been dying to try, you are probably all ears. You hang on every step, trying hard not to miss one second of the demonstration. This is comprehensive listening, and we do this when we are listening to instructions, directions or anything that represents a process.

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