Types of listening in psychology, techniques, styles of active and passive

The concept of listening in communication psychology

To successfully interact with society, it is necessary to develop not only the speech apparatus, but also the ability to correctly listen to a person. Listening and speaking are fundamental skills that enable you to develop verbal communication.

The essence of the technique is to have the most positive and responsive attitude towards the interlocutor, which increases the chance of universal understanding. Interest is the most important technique for developing active listening, knowledge of which will allow you to gain trust from a person and reveal more information about him.

In turn, listening is a procedure of concentrated understanding and perception of auditory and visual stimuli, as well as the unconscious attribution of symbolism to the information heard.

Active listening is characterized by the skills:

  • Understanding. A detailed decoding of information coming from outside, which occurs by assigning the most appropriate meaning, in other words, comprehension in those categories that are understandable to a person.
  • Concentration. The process of high concentration and interpersonal perception of multiple symbolic definitions coming from the senses. Characterized by the subsequent selection of the most important images due to a specific phenomenon.
  • Critical listening or analysis . Is the process of determining how true the information said is.
  • Response. Characterized by an appropriate response to what is heard, including verbal and nonverbal communication. Gives you the opportunity to evaluate information about your own personality - behavior, character, level of empathy, etc.

Active listening depends on parameters such as personality type, intellectual development, age, culture or gender of the person. Also, numerous professions are associated with the ability to listen, including: salespeople, psychologists, teachers, consultants and others.

In the role of business communication, listening skills are especially important, therefore, during training, special techniques are often used that develop the ability to correctly and effectively perceive information.

Using such techniques, the ability to quickly support an interlocutor develops, which increases the importance of the individual.

When communicating with children, listening allows you to better understand their fears and prejudices, which, if approached incorrectly, can be harmful. Seeing that the parent is capable of understanding, there is a high chance that the child will learn to solve his own problems.

Research in psychology indicates that listening skills are developed differently among people. Thus, it has been experimentally proven that on average, 47-50% of the time is spent on listening, 16-30% on speaking, and 15-18% on analyzing information.

Interestingly, most people rate listening skills at 80-85%, but numerous studies indicate high effectiveness of understanding data only in 20-25% of cases. That is, ¾ of the information is lost.

Listening skills

During communication, it is important not only to speak expressively and competently, but also to be able to listen to the interlocutor. This is of great importance for mutual understanding with your counterpart. To be able to listen means to perceive the flow of information from the narrator. A person’s level of culture will allow him to politely listen to his interlocutor and tactfully refrain from harsh statements and disdainful facial expressions.

The ability to listen depends on personality type, intelligence, communication culture, age, gender. Scientists have proven that women are emotional during listening, inattentive, and often interrupt the interlocutor with their own stories. Men, on the other hand, are able to listen to information to the end, mentally looking for ways to solve it.

Many professions involve listening skills. These are sellers, hairdressers, massage therapists, psychologists, doctors, teachers, administrators, consultants. Efficiency and a culture of listening are important for business communication. There are special techniques that facilitate the perception of information. Active listening will help support your interlocutor and show the significance of his story.

Types of listening, features and examples

Types of listening in psychology are 5 main varieties, which differ from each other based on the quality of analysis, perception and timely response to the information heard.

The use of a certain type helps to improve the quality of information perception, which is why it is often used during business meetings.

Male and female active listening

Based on gender characteristics, there is both male and female listening. In the first case, the information is perceived most carefully, including comprehensive observation and analysis of the data obtained, active discussion of the subject of discussion, reflection and the presence of clarifying questions.

Male listening is often used during business meetings, conferences or negotiations. Feminine listening differs from male listening in increased emotionality and openness.

In this case, empathy is used, which allows you to become closer to the interlocutor, causing the necessary trust, as well as sympathy for the problems described. Such communication is dominated by an emphasis on feelings and the emotional component, rather than the amount of information expressed.

Directed or critical listening

With this type of listening, the participant in the conversation first makes a critical analysis of what he heard, starting in advance from the intention of verifying the information received. In other words, an analysis of the veracity of what was said occurs, after which the individual understands whether he agrees with another opinion or not.

Critical analysis is characterized by the quality and value judgments about the correctness of what the interlocutor said, that is, statements that can be supported by facts.

When listening critically, the following processes usually occur:

  • clarification. Are there significant facts that support the wording heard, are they truly relevant;
  • assessment. A relationship is drawn between logical conclusions and the evidence base;
  • definition. Is there other information that could reduce the quality of the conclusion?

Such listening is used when an important decision needs to be made, unfamiliar experience is discussed, or certain points of view are expressed in discussions, meetings or work meetings.

Critical listening is ineffective in situations where new data is discussed or the learning process takes place (lectures, reports, lessons). The psychological attitude of rejecting the information received does not allow one to listen to it, which is why valuable data may go unnoticed.

Empathic Listening

Types of listening in psychology associated with empathy represent an individual's ability to respond emotionally to the experiences of other people. With this type, the participant in the conversation places the main emphasis on “reading” the feelings of the interlocutor, giving little importance to the words spoken.

Types of listening in psychology related to empathy:

  • Empathic response . Characterized by the presence of observation of another person and the subsequent experience of various emotional reactions that are similar to expected or actual expressions.
  • Sympathetic response . Represents a feeling of participation, care, or compassion that is directed toward another individual in the context of a situation or problem. It differs in that the opponent is not inclined to direct empathy. Correct sympathetic understanding is characterized by the development of emotional signs such as anxiety, pity or grief.
  • Taking a different point of view . Refers to putting oneself in another person's shoes, better perceiving their point of view, problem or any other thoughts.

Empathic listening is generally not characterized by the presence of advice or value judgment of the interlocutor. At the same time, the person does not seek to moralize or criticize the information received.

When developing communication skills, this type of listening can be effective in the context of obtaining positive emotions from the interlocutor - joy, self-confidence, hope for a better outcome, pleasure, etc.

It may also be ineffective when, during a conversation, the subject feels negative emotions - fear, grief, sadness or disappointment.

Conscious observation of a person will allow you to focus on such important manifestations as verbal and nonverbal communication, through which you can learn more about the emotional component of the problem.

Non-reflective listening

Types of listening in psychology associated with the ability to minimally interfere with the information being expressed, with a high focus on the problem, are called non-reflective.

The ability to silently and carefully perceive information, without interfering with the context with one’s own remarks or remarks, greatly facilitates the speaker’s process of self-reflection and expression.

Types of listening in psychology, example - non-reflective listening.

Non-reflective listening when communicating with a person who has speech impediments gives him the opportunity to focus on the subject of the conversation and speak better. This type of listening is also effective with interlocutors who experience negative emotions, feel the intensity of passions, or are too preoccupied with a problem.

When delving into the process unreflectively, you should not use negative reactions, and also ask additional questions and ask the person to calm down and say that everything will get better someday.

This can cause frustration or indignation, because in an affective state, the interlocutor is not capable of adequately perceiving information.

Reflective Listening

Reflective or active perception of information is a type of listening in which the reflection of the information received in the conversation comes first. This type presupposes an analysis of the data received during the conversation, as well as a quick response to it using leading questions.

This type of listening, according to many psychologists, is the most effective and constructive, because when it is used, the so-called organization of interaction develops.

This affects the two-way understanding of opponents - both speak more meaningfully, information is checked and clarified.

The most well-known techniques that distinguish reflective listening from others are frequent clarifications about the correct understanding of the information being expressed, which occurs through leading questions: “Do I understand what correctly?”, “Otherwise, did you want to say...”, “Maybe you meant in sight?

Using the techniques described above allows you to provide two interlocutors with adequate communication, which eliminates various pressures or barriers between them. This also allows the subject to form the idea that the individual in front of him is equal to him.

The use of reflective listening skills will significantly help someone who has a “victim” position, which will allow them to knock an authoritative interlocutor out of a leadership position, thereby elevating the conversation to average and equal communication.

Common Listening Mistakes

In business and casual communications, there are several common listening errors that need to be avoided. Among them are:

  • Interrupting a communication partner during a conversation (many people interrupt each other unconsciously, managers often interrupt their subordinates, and men often interrupt women);
  • Hasty conclusions that force the dialogue partner to take a defensive position (this immediately creates barriers to constructive dialogue);
  • Hasty objections that arise in case of disagreement with the statements of the speaker. Often a person does not listen, but formulates an objection in his thoughts, waiting for his turn to speak. Next, he gets carried away with justifying his point of view, not noticing that his partner was trying to say the same thing;
  • Unsolicited advice, which is often given by those who are not able to provide real help (here it is important to determine the desire of the interlocutor: joint reflection or receiving specific help).

Active Listening Technique

The main techniques of active listening are the ability to capture the essence of what is being said, and, if possible and willing, to help the interlocutor. Full mastery of the techniques is achieved through constant practice.

The most popular techniques:

  • Repetition. Clarifying questions and repeating what the interlocutor said. Concentration on the main points of the dialogue.
  • Encouragement. Increased interest, expressed in the desire to listen to a person. Particularly important are qualities such as goodwill, responsiveness, and lack of value judgment.
  • Reflection. Understanding the emotional component of a person. The ability to copy gestures and facial expressions of the interlocutor, which allows you to increase mutual understanding and express interest.
  • Generalization. Summarizing what your opponent said. It is a concentration of everything said based on the main, main idea. A compromise is possible.

Also in practice, there are methods that allow you to transform passive listening into active listening.

EchoReproducing the last words of the interlocutor using expressive intonation. A particularly important point that allows you to clarify the data received and demonstrate the importance of the conversation. At the same time, the emphasis is on the importance of the individual himself.
InterpretationExpressing any proposals about why the interlocutor is predisposed to a particular opinion. They often begin with the words “I think that by what you said, you wanted to convey to me...”. Provides an opportunity to demonstrate sincere interest in another opinion, as well as to clarify the details of the conversation.
ParaphrasingA succinct retelling of what the interlocutor said. It is recommended to start with the phrase “If I understand you correctly, you mean.” Provides an opportunity to show additional interest and find out about the nuances of the conversation.

Thus, active or reflective listening is a technique that is characterized by two main components: the primary clarification of the true meaning of the conversation and the manifestation of reflexes that will confirm the value of the conversation.

With a feeling of self-importance and genuine interest, the opponent begins to experience greater interest in the conversation, becoming more open to conversation. All this develops friendly communication, trust and creates the basis for better relationships.

Empathy is the most powerful enhancer of all active listening techniques, which allows you to quickly establish good contact and promote openness in a person. Before performing the techniques, you should work on the empathic component.

Interference with active listening

During a dialogue, a person may encounter certain difficulties that will interfere with the correct perception and accurate visualization of the information received. Such interference arises from one’s own experiences or thoughts.

Various distortions during a conversation can interfere with the perception of the interlocutor, reducing concentration on the subject of the dialogue. The most popular difficulties include a drowsy or dreamy state. Also, with high criticality, the opponent may not perceive information from another person.

There are some errors that indirectly affect listening:

  • Inventing arguments or answers, which increases the chances of losing the main point of the dialogue.
  • Instructions, moralization, critical arguments pushing the opponent to stop talking.
  • Ridiculous phrases that copy a person.
  • Interrupting or finishing a phrase for an opponent without allowing a full thought to be formed.
  • Reducing the conversation to an insignificant polemic.
  • Focusing on oneself, which is characterized by translating what is said into one’s own experience.
  • Frequent distraction from the purpose of the conversation by personal experiences or irritants.

External irritants include the inability to correctly convey information - slurred or incoherent speech, lack of correct tempo and volume. Also, the quality of perception can be affected by strangers and loud noise - a playing telephone, transport, repair work.

Active Listening Questions

The types of listening, as well as their effectiveness, depend on whether the subject is distracted. In order to correctly understand the interlocutor and focus on the essence of what is being said, it is necessary to ask leading questions.

In psychology, such techniques are often used to gain a large audience or manipulate opinions. Questions should be as open-ended as possible, which will allow you to obtain as much information as possible.

Examples are statements:

  • "how exactly?";
  • "Why?";
  • "How many?";
  • "For what?";
  • “What should I do for this?”

Depending on the context, the interrogative construction can be modified by using new words. Their large number in a conversation is directly proportional to the amount of information received.

Because closed questions require a short answer “yes” or “no,” you should not overuse them. Psychologically, they develop an interrogative atmosphere. Such words are best used at the very end of the dialogue in order to clarify the internal state of the opponent.

Alternative questions are made up of two components - open and closed varieties. In this case, the opponent must subconsciously choose between them, which may also indicate his disposition to talk.

Tips for a bad listener

In the case when it is necessary to get rid of the interlocutor, a number of techniques are drawn up, based on the method of active listening, with the help of which you can cause an open reluctance in the opponent to continue the dialogue.

To do this you should:

  • sharply and rudely criticize your opponent, pointing out his inaccuracies and mistakes;
  • interrupt and go on personal topics;
  • use dismissive postures and facial expressions;
  • constantly answer a question with a question;
  • remain silent or show no emotional response;
  • being distracted by telephone conversations or showing interest in other activities.

Despite the effectiveness of the technique, it should not be used often, since all people require sympathy. It is always better to kindly express your own reluctance to conduct further conversation.

Techniques related to the elements of listening

The following techniques are used for active listening:

  • Pause. Helps you understand what you heard and express your comments during the conversation. The speaker can thus emphasize certain elements of speech.
  • Clarification. Allows you to clarify, detail what was said, or not to hush up the sensitive points of the issue being discussed.
  • Retelling. Provides an opportunity to find out whether the information is correctly conveyed and understood, helps to place emphasis on the necessary arguments and facts.
  • Development of thought. Encourages interlocutors to participate in the conversation and express their opinions on the subject of discussion.
  • Reporting the perception of the interlocutor (transmitting your opinion about the speaker).
  • A message about self-perception or a description of one's own feelings.
  • A note on the progress of the dialogue (polylogue) – an assessment of the communication process.

Tips for being a good listener

Fundamental active listening techniques allow you to develop positive communication between two interlocutors, through which a person feels attentive to the words and experiences expressed.

Also, understanding the techniques and their correct use will create the necessary sense of self-importance, which will increase the chances of success in a particular matter.

Basic recommendations:

  • maintain eye contact with the interlocutor;

  • produce feedback using questions and facial expressions;
  • after asking a question, wait for an answer without interrupting or asking additional questions;
  • do not refute what you hear by delving into the subject of the dialogue;
  • do not pay attention to aggressive actions on the part of the interlocutor, try to eliminate them with the help of calmness and patience.

After the interlocutor has completed the story, it is recommended to remain silent for several minutes, which will allow you to better analyze what you heard and determine the emotional component of the dialogue. Such a break also helps the speaker to take a break or remember important aspects of the topic of conversation.

Using types of listening is a sure way to reach a person's inner world, especially when the dialogue is not limited to verbal experiences. In the practice of psychology, such techniques allow one to achieve the desired disposition and increase trust on the part of the interlocutor.

Errors in the application of technology

Active listening techniques in psychology contribute to the full building of relationships in society. Therefore, obvious mistakes in communication should be avoided.

  • Distraction from the conversation, reaction to external stimuli, one’s own thoughts.
  • Making up answers or arguments contributes to losing the essence of the conversation.
  • Instructions, criticism and moralization (“I told you so…”) will only push the interlocutor to end the conversation.
  • Parroting or copying the speaker's words creates the illusion of understanding. An astute person will realize that they are not listening.
  • You cannot interrupt or finish the sentence for your interlocutor. It’s better to let him formulate the thought on his own.
  • Reduce the conversation to meaningless polemics.
  • Concentrate attention on yourself, translating all the interlocutor’s words into your own situation (“and it was like that for me...”).
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