A very basic kind of listening involving little more than hearing and a recognition that some noise has come to you. Reflex listening is very common in social settings, classrooms, public settings, and in concerts. Reflex listening involves primarily “guidance” noises where you can move out of danger, approach and engage prospective pleasant experiences, but stay tuned to hear other important messages should they occur.
Type II, content listening
This type of listening is the one most frequently referred to when teachers and managers (leaders) criticize “poor” listening. Learning in school, receiving instructions on the job, getting information about what to do and how to run your life, are all involved in the content level. You listen to learn and to understand and to somehow retain information. An important dimension of content–type listening is an ability to detect which messages are accurate, useful, sound, truthful, reliable, and relevant.
Type III, relational listening
Listening is important not only in relation to getting the content of the message called “deliberative listening” but also in another dimension called “empathic listening.” This empathic dimension to listening includes active listening. Active listening reflects a whole orientation to life and to people–one which implies that to listen is to have the creative power to imagine how it would make sense to say what the other person is saying. It says that the other person (the speaker) is fundamentally important and worth listening to. How do you “do” active listening–by listening to a person without passing judgment on what is being said, and mirroring back what has been said to indicate that you understand the feelings the speaker was putting across. Effective communication is free to happen when threats have been removed. By the mirroring process, you help build...