Listening is the process of creating meaning from voices and responding effectively. It is considered an essential interpersonal skill. Effective listening is perhaps the foundation that establishes strong relationships with our colleagues at work, at home, in social meetings, or at school. According to former arbitrage trader Helen Lee Schifter, there are six main types of professional listening styles.
Here is a discussion on each type:
1. Active Listening
Schifter describes active listening as a style based on the speaker’s words. In active listening, one has to remain calm while avoiding any interruptions. Active listening can be used when one person wants to take charge to maintain focus during a rambling conversation. Active listeners excel at capturing and reflecting on speakers’ words, ensuring that the speaker feels heard.
2. Empathic Listening
Schifter explains that this type of professional listening requires the listener to connect with the speaker through active empathy for their thoughts, feelings, or experiences. Helen says empathic listening can be used when one person expresses empathy and compassion for the feelings or experiences of another. Schifter believes empathic listeners can comprehend the various emotions that speakers experience, such as fear, sadness, and anger.
3. Collaborative Listening
Helen Lee Schifter says collaborative listening can be used when there is a need to establish a shared understanding between the parties involved in communication. This type of listening is often used when one has to take the opinions and thoughts of others into account. Helen believes collaborative listeners can take input from speakers and develop their ideas from what they’ve heard.
4. Reflective Listening
This type of listening requires the listener to give feedback to the speaker. Mrs. Lee Schifter says reflective listening can be used when one person needs to offer encouragement or affirmation for the sentiments, feelings, and experiences shared by another person. Thoughtful listeners are brilliant at providing feedback that reinforces the relationship between themselves and the narrators; they also comprehend what is being communicated by drawing on their own life experiences.
5. Informational Listening
Helen says that to qualify as an informational listener, one must focus on what is being said. Informative listening is often used when finding out critical information about various things. For example, an individual may try to figure out how to solve a problem in the company. They may involve another employee who will tell them about their experience, point of view, and perspective on the problem.
6. Selective Listening
Helen Schifter describes selective listening as only listening to critical information and assuming the rest. She terms it a biased type of hearing because the news conveyed is filtered. Helen says one can use this listening style if they don’t want to understand what is being said.
There are other types of listening, including sympathetic and focused. Being a professional listener is worth interpreting most conversations. Good listeners make speakers feel safe to air their sentiments and can develop ideas from what they’ve heard. They may also develop stronger relationships and better understand what’s being said.