Comprehensive listening (+13 other types)

Comprehensive listening

In this brief guide, we are going to discuss comprehensive listening, what it is and how you can use it in your day to day life.

What is comprehensive listening?

Comprehensive Listening is a type of listening that we practice almost daily. For example, when you are attending a lecture or you are having a conversation with your friend, you practice comprehensive listening. The purpose of this type of listening is to understand best the message of our interlocutor. 

While the other person is talking, we use all the resources and skills we have to interpret the message as effectively as possible. How well a message is understood and how the message is interpreted depends on the person listening to it, and not on the interlocutor as is often believed.

All the knowledge that we have about certain topics, as well as our beliefs, desires and fears, play an important role in the way we interpret a message. The broader our horizons, the more we can fully comprehend the speaker. 

How can you improve your conversations with others, by practising comprehensive listening?

When we do not practice comprehensive listening, it is very easy to misunderstand the message of the speaker, or even not to hear what he is saying. The other person may feel rejected, misunderstood or even offended. 

Below you will find some tips to improve your comprehensive listening.

  1. Maintains eye contact with the speaker.
  2. Focus on what your discussion partner tells you and not what you are going to say next.
  3. Eliminate factors that can distract you, such as phone notifications.
  4. Ask clarification questions if needed.
  5. Don’t interrupt the speaker. Wait to see if the speaker has really finished what he has to say, before replying. 
  6. Eliminate thoughts that distract you.
  7. Don’t judge or make assumptions; each has its own version of truth and life experiences.
Comprehensive listening (+13 other types)

What other types of listening are there?

For good communication, listening is very important. Regardless of how well you manage to express your thoughts and externalize your experiences, if you fail to listen to the interlocutor properly, the communication will become deficient.

Listening is, in communication, just as important as speech. Most of us tend to talk more than we listen because the talk gives us a false impression that we have control.

Discriminative listening

Discriminative listening it is the most rudimentary form of listening that we humans are capable of. Discriminative listening is about the vibrations and sounds of the interlocutor’s voice.

This type of listening is very important because it communicates the message behind the words. For example, someone who is sad may say they feel good. By practising discriminatory listening, you can tell from the tone of the person’s voice that she/he is actually feeling sad or angry. Basically, discriminatory listening helps us to capture emotions from the other person’s voice.

Informational listening

Informational listening is a type of listening that requires immense concentration. This form of listening is about the ability to receive the information the speaker wants to convey. Informational listening is about learning what you hear.

While you practice this type of listening, other parallel processes such as criticism or reflection on the information received must play a secondary role.

For better informational listening it is recommended to take notes. Our brain remembers better when we practise note-taking.

Critical or Evaluative listening

Critical listening does not imply a position of superiority and judgment of what the speaker says. Rather, critical listening is about listening carefully to the information transmitted, comparing how it corresponds to its own values and forming an opinion.

We are each different, so we will not always agree with what the other person is saying. It is perfectly normal to ask yourself: “what is the purpose of the speaker and what should I understand from this information?”

Therapeutic or Empathic Listening

Therapeutic or empathetic listening is a type of listening that prioritizes the mental state, emotions and feelings of the speaker.

As an example, you can practice empathic listening when someone gives you advice or asks you for a sensitive issue or topic.

Therapeutic listening is not something that happens only in the therapist-client relationship, but anyone who can practice this type of listening. All you have to do is have an open mind, listen carefully and not judge or criticize the emotions of other people.

Selective listening

Selective listening is a negative way of listening to someone. This type of listening can often cause conflicts or misunderstandings between people. Selective listening involves filtering the speaker’s message and selecting from what he or she says, a part that affects you or that interests you most.

To avoid selective listening, you must learn to listen with more empathy and understanding

Rapport listening

Report listening is oftentimes practised by sellers. Their interest is to make you feel important, understood and valuable. Therefore, people who practice listening will do everything they can to please the interlocutor.

Comprehensive listening (+13 other types)






Appreciative listening

Appreciative listening is not about communicating with others, but rather about the relationship with ourselves and what we need to do to nourish the mind.

Therefore, appreciative listening is practised when listening to our favourite music, a recorded meditation or a recited speech.

The purpose is to feel good.

Pseudo or False listening

We all practised pseudo listening at least once in our lives. We all found ourselves thinking about anything other than what the speaker in front of us was talking about.

Pseudo listening is about pretending to be listening when you actually think of something else. Sometimes when a story does not interest us – perhaps because we have heard it too many times, or when we are extremely concerned about another problem, we practice pseudo listening.

Deep listening

Deep listening means being fully present and ready to listen to the other person. This form of listening involves empathy, understanding, unconditional respect for the other person.

To practice deep listening means to be prepared to listen to someone regardless of whether it is an interesting story, an unpleasant situation or you must receive bad news.

Deep listening cannot be practised by anyone and requires self-awareness and self-care techniques.

High integrity listening

High integrity listening implies that you know how to listen with integrity.

Integrity is the kind of virtue that encompasses a series of moral traits of a person, such as honesty, respect for oneself and others. 

High integrity listening means listening actively and giving an honest and diplomatic answer.

Judgmental listening

Judgmental listening is practised by those who, in communicating with others, spend most of their time analyzing and evaluating what the other person is saying. These people do not shy away from expressing their opinion even if it comes in contention with everything the speaker has said. For them, it is very important for their position to be recognized and heard.

Sympathetic  listening

Sympathetic listening is somehow resembling empathetic listening.

This type of communication requires special attention to the emotions of the interlocutor.

Sympathetic listening allows you to express your emotions about what you hear. For example, if a friend tells you about an unfortunate event, you can also express your feelings of disappointment or sadness for what happened.

 Likewise, by practising sympathetic listening,  you will easily connect to the emotions of happiness and enthusiasm of someone who has just been asked to marry, for example.

Relationship listening

Relationship listening is about the connection that is formed between people when they communicate. The stronger this connection is, the easier the two people can understand each other.

There are rare cases when someone says, “It’s like you read my thoughts!” Well, this can happen when the relationship between two people is so strong that there is no need for words.

Comprehensive listening (+13 other types)

Why is active listening so important?

You probably noticed that in all the listening examples I mentioned above, I also stressed the importance of practising active listening.

Active listening involves a certain amount of attention, availability of understanding, empathy, and active acts of participation in the discussion (gestures, words). In short, it involves being there for the speaker.

Active listening is the key that opens the mind of the other and gives him a clear and immediate way of approach and emotional support. For example, as opposed to advice, active listening allows me to show my beloved that, although it is possible that I cannot do something concrete for his problem, I am there to listen and offer my support. 

Frequently asked questions about Comprehensive listening

What are the 4 types of listening?

The four types of listening are comprehensive, therapeutical/emphatic, appreciative and critical listening. 

What are the types of listening with example?

Here 5 types of listening with examples:

– Pseudo listening – your co-worker is telling the same old story again and you act like you are listening but you are thinking about what you’ll eat for dinner.

– Sympathetic listening – your best-friend is telling you a sad story about their childhood and you can feel the pain they went through. 

– Biased listening – usually when someone is angry or fighting they only listen to what reinforces their old beliefs.

– Rapport listening – a car seller that makes you feel important.

– Informational listening – listening to a podcast. 

Is listening profound or comprehensive?

Listening can be both profound and comprehensive. Profound listening implies being attentive and thoughtful about the speaker’s feelings. Comprehensive listening requires a high degree of attention in order to understand the other person, also.

What makes a good listener?

A good listener is attentive to his caller. Listen with empathy, understanding, an open-minded year and ask important questions. A good listener knows that not everything is solved, as if by magic, just by having a conversation. Instead, it takes time and openness.

What makes a bad listener?

A bad listener is a person who often interrupts you, does not really hear what you say and does not make an effort to understand your message. A bad listener will try to force his or her own opinion or an “ideal solution” on you and will quickly change the subject.

What is the importance of listening?

Good listening is extremely important in any relationship. By practising active listening you are showing to the other person that you care, that you value their opinion and time. Knowing how to practice good listening is a quality that not many people posses.  

Conclusions

In this brief guide, we discussed comprehensive listening, what it is and how you can use it in your day to day life. We also talked briefly about other forms of listening and why are they important. 

If you have any comments or questions let us know.

Further reading

  1. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 
  2. The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction
  3. Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone
  4. Active Listening
  5. Active Listening: Improve Your Conversation Skills, Learn Effective Communication Techniques: Achieve Successful Relationships: With 6 Essential Guidelines 

Comprehensive listening (+13 other types)

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.