Selective listening (What you need to know )

Selective listening (What you need to know )

In this blog post, we will speak about selective listening and other types of listening.

We also discuss how we can practice empathic listening and become better listeners and better conversationalists. 

What is 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.

Selective listening (What you need to know )

Practising the art of conversation

I have always been struck by the phenomenon of selective listening or selective vision: we listen and see what we want.

And a story by Tim Hansel reflects it well and, hopefully, it challenges you and moves you to broaden the spectrum of your perception: 

An American Indian was walking with a friend through the streets of New York and, suddenly, he exclaimed: I hear a cricket. The other told him that he was crazy and that it was impossible to hear a cricket in the middle of that deafening noise.

I’m sure it’s cricket, said the Indian, and listening carefully, he crossed the street and headed for the corner. There, he found a bush in a cement pot and in the foliage was the cricket. And, to his friend’s amazement, he told him that everything depended on what one wanted to hear or feel and, to prove it, he did the following: He threw a coin on the floor and all the people turned to look. 

Do you see it? You listen to what you want.

There is a great miracle in listening when you do not interpret what you are hearing. Listen with your heart, with care and attention, and you will see that the act of listening is like a flower blooming.

You need to listen without preparing your answer, listen with empathy and deep and loving respect.

Look the other in the eyes, read their gestures and their silences. Go beyond appearances and labels and search for the truth, beyond your truth.

Evaluate what they tell you regardless of mental labels and conditioning paradigms. What counts is what is said, not so much who says it.

Listen with humility and patience, open to practising the difficult art of learning and unlearning. 

When you know how to listen, you value others in their difference with genuine tolerance. Give yourself that gift and give it to others.

Ask questions, let yourself be questioned, live open to change.

Take care of the other with love and they will tell you what a lady said to someone who listened to his two hours in a row: What a good conversationalist you are.

Selective listening (What you need to know )

How can we practice empathic listening?

Through exercise. Some are shocked when asked to practise empathic listening.

As one learns to control their usual way of responding, and to listen with empathy, he/she may notice spectacular results in the quality of communication.

To listen empathetically to another person, to listen to and truly understand what he is saying, we need to change our perspective on how we look at things. We need to move the magnifying glass from our lives to the receivers. 

We must stop filtering our own paradigm and stop reading our autobiographies in the lives of others (“I know how you feel! I’ve been through the same ordeal.

I know the situation. Let me tell you how it was”). The details of the life of the man I am talking to are different from those of my life.

 If I really want to understand him and have a conversation at a higher level and a deep connection with him, I have to see things from his perspective.

This does not necessarily mean agreeing with him, but only understanding his speech, mood, motivations, arguments, attitude or actions.

If I can truly understand him, even if I don’t agree with him, even if I would never choose to live like him, at least I will be able to treat him with more respect and not treat him. / I judge it the same as if I had only looked through my lenses and analyzed accordingly.

When we listen empathetically, we are also exposed to risks: those of being influenced and becoming vulnerable.

In order to exert an influence on someone, I have to let myself be influenced. I need inner stability to face the vulnerability to which I am exposed.

But that means listening with deep participation and truly understanding.

Selective listening (What you need to know )

Other types of listening

Besides evaluative listening, which is our main theme for this article, there are other 13 different types of listening.

Discriminative listening – This 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.

Basically, discriminatory listening helps us to capture emotions from the other person’s voice.

Informational listening – A type of listening to 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.

Comprehensive Listening – 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. 

Therapeutic or Empathic Listening – 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.

Evaluative listening – It occurs when the interlocutor tries to convince us by influencing our attitudes, beliefs or ideas.

We listen and evaluate the received message so that we can make the appropriate decisions regarding the received message.

Evaluative listening is also called critical listening.

Selective listening (What you need to know )

Rapport listening  – 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.

Appreciative listening  – 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.

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.

Deep listening – It 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.

High integrity listening – It 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. 

Judgmental listening – It 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. 

Sympathetic listening – It 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. 

Relationship listening – It 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.

Selective listening (What you need to know )

Conclusions

In this blog post, we spoke about selective listening and other types of listening. We also discussed how we can practice empathic listening and become better listeners and better conversationalists. 

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.

There is a great miracle in listening when you do not interpret what you are hearing.

Listen with your heart, with care and attention, and you will see that the act of listening is like a flower blooming.

You need to listen without preparing your answer, listen with empathy and deep and loving respect.

If you have comments or recommendations, please let us know!

FAQ about selective listening

What is the meaning of selective listening?

Selective listening means that the listener will filter the information and choose only the details that interest him/her. 

Is selective hearing bad?

Yes, selective hearing is considered a bad habit. Selective listening is a negative way of listening to someone.

This type of listening can often cause conflicts or misunderstandings between people.

How do you stop selective listening?

To stop selective listening you need to start to be more present, stop multitasking, avoid distraction. Learn to practice active and empathic listening. 

What is pseudo listening?

Pseudo listening, also known as false listening means listening without paying attention.

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.

What is the difference between real and pseudo listening?

Real listening is when you actively listen to the interlocutor’s message, while pseudo listening means not paying too much attention or thinking of something else while in a conversation. 

What is empathic active listening?

Empathic active listening is essential in cultivating quality relationships.

It creates human connection, closeness, appreciation and affection.

Is a type of listening that makes the other feel heard, appreciated and valued. 

Further reading

Active Listening, by Carl R. Rogers

Active Listening: Improve Your Conversation Skills, Learn Effective Communication Techniques: Achieve Successful Relationships: With 6 Essential Guidelines, by Joseph Sorensen 

The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction, by Rebecca Z. Shafir MA CCC

Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry

References

Active Listening, by Carl R. Rogers

Active Listening: Improve Your Conversation Skills, Learn Effective Communication Techniques: Achieve Successful Relationships: With 6 Essential Guidelines, by Joseph Sorensen 

Selective listening (What you need to know )

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.