The Five Levels of Listening

The Five Levels of Listening

 

Level Title Description of Listeners’ Actions
1 Pretend Listeners want to give the speaker the impression that they are listening, but they have no real interest in what they speaker wants to communicate. This patronizing practice often is used to minimize the time conversing with the speaker.
2 Selective Whether consciously or unconsciously practicing this, listeners filter what they hear. They filter from the conversation what they do not want to hear and focus only on what interests them. Filters may be based on listeners’ background, worldview, values, and interests.
3 Passive When engaged in a conversation, listeners are mentally preparing a response for what they hear. They are more focused on impressing the speaker with a response than being impressed by what the speaker wants to communicate. By doing so, listeners miss the intent and may not fully understand the meaning behind what the speaker is conveying. Thus, listeners more interested in what they want to say wait for an opening to interject and even interrupt the speaker.
4 Attentive Listeners focus on what the speaker says and they hear the words, but listeners do so from their own viewpoint and perspective. Listeners may be affected emotionally by the speaker’s words but these emotions are from the listeners’ perspective and may or may not reflect what the speaker is feeling. By not focusing the communication from the speaker’s perspective, listeners may miss an important meaning and messaging.
5 Empathic Many people effectively listen from their viewpoint, but they never develop the ability to listen with empathy. To achieve Level Five, listeners need to adopt a completely new mindset. At this level, listeners use attentive listening but view the conversation from the speaker’s perspective. Empathic listeners have the capacity to emphasize with what the speaker says and feels. If a speaker relates a life experience, listeners can put themselves in the speaker’s place and not just hear what the speaker is saying, but imagine what the speaker experienced and feel what the speaker is feeling.

©Graves, R. (2014)