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Social Sci LibreTexts

6: Listening

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    Learning Objectives

    • Describe the five stages of the listening process.
    • Explain the functions and styles of listening.
    • Identify barriers and ineffective listening practices.
    • Describe ways to become a better listener.

    As a communication act, listening is often underestimated when compared with other forms of communication. Although all communication skills are important for success in life and relationships, listening is at the heart of effective relational communication. In this chapter, we explain the listening process, stages of listening, functions of listening, styles of listening, barriers and pitfalls to effective listening, and how to become a better listener. Our goal is to help you become the best listener you can be in all relationships and in all contexts.

    • 6.1: Introduction to Listening
      Listening may seem like a natural skill, but there is much more to this communicative act than it appears on the surface. To help you improve your own listening skills it requires that you have a better understanding of why listening is so important and what is involved in the listening process.
    • 6.2: Stages of the Listening Process
      Although listening may seem like it should be a fairly simple process, there are several steps to the listening process. Just as you learned in your chapter on perception, these steps occur so rapidly that we may not even realize we are doing them. The steps of the listening process that we will explore include receiving, interpreting, recalling, evaluating, and responding to messages.
    • 6.3: Functions of Listening
      We are sure that you have noticed that when you are watching a movie, or listening to music, that you are engaged differently than when you are listening to one of your professors. There is value in understanding that there are different functions of listening because we can then use the most appropriate listening skills to meet the purpose or occasion. Using these functions appropriately will lead to better engagement and understanding.
    • 6.4: Listening Styles
      Just as there are different types of listening, depending upon the context of the situation, there are also different styles of listening. This next section will explore four different listening styles and ways to adapt your own listening to others in an effective way.
    • 6.5: Barriers to Listening
      A barrier to listening is anything that is hindering you from recognizing, understanding, and accurately interpreting the message that you are receiving. In this next section, we will discuss five different barriers to effective listening: Information overload, internal and external distractions, prejudice or prejudging, and rate of speech and thought.
    • 6.6: Ineffective Listening Practices
      Being aware or conscious of the habits we have is the first step to improving how we listen. This next section will look at ineffective listening practices that include pseudo-listening, selective listening, defensive listening, aggressive listening, narcissistic listening, insensitive listening, interrupting, and eavesdropping.
    • 6.7: Becoming a Better Listener
      The principles of active listening are not hard to understand, but they are hard to implement and require practice to use them effectively. Active listening is being engaged as a listener, not just hearing the words. Active listening requires purposefully focusing on what a speaker is saying with the objective of understanding. This final section of the chapter will describe what active listening means and the principles of active listening.
    • 6.8: Summary and Review
    • 6.9: References

    Thumbnail: CommScope Lifestyle Images on Flickr is licensed CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    This page titled 6: Listening is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Victoria Leonard & Elizabeth Coleman (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI)) .