ITK Blog: How Do YOU Listen?

ITK Blog: How Do YOU Listen?

Today’s blog post is the latest in our series about the Inside Track Coaching that Peirce College advisors and career counselors recently completed. Funded by a grant from the Predominantly Black Institutions program, we’ll continue to share an inside look at the experience and how it benefits our students and alumni.

Are you a good listener? Can you identify someone in your life that is a good listener? In today’s blog, we will explore the importance of listening and tips for being a good listener. 

A formidable quote that was a part of the InsideTrack training manual is from Rachel Naomi Remen:

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.”

Providing that attention to the other person lets them know that you are an active listener and truly engaged in what they are sharing.

The International Learning Association (ILA) defines three types of listening: Informational, Critical, and Empathetic Listening. Each of these types of listening play a vital role in building and maintaining strong relationships. 

The first type of listening is informational listening, which is described as when someone is listening to learn. This type of listening is more about fact-finding and gaining a greater understanding of the situation. During their training, Inside Track® stresses “that in order for informational listening to be effective, transparency about purpose and process are key.” When one is transparent, this allows for honesty and a more open relationship to build trust with each other. An example of informational listening is when a student meets with his/her academic advisor each session to discuss progress of goals and graduation planning. 

The second type of listening is critical listening, which involves making informed decisions. During critical listening, the listener needs to form an opinion of what is being said and provide their judgement to the speaker. It is extremely vital with critical listening that we can decipher between what is fact and what is opinion or feelings that are being spoken; also, it is crucial that the listener does not imply their own feelings or biases in their feedback. This type of listening happens quite frequently in our daily lives. For example, think of a recent phone conversation you had with a friend or family member; did any critical listening occur on your part or the other end? Take notice next time you have a conversation to see if you have engaged in critical listening. 

The third and final type of listening is empathetic listening, which includes the listeners main role needing to understand the feelings and emotions of the speaker. The major difference between empathetic listening and critical listening is that when engaged in empathic listening, one does not provide advice. It is also important to distinguish between sympathy and empathy when discussing empathetic listening. As defined by Inside Track®, “sympathy is to feel sorry for another and empathy is to understand and share the feelings of another.” When successful listening to another empathetically, one will do so without judgement. 

In summary, there are a great deal of benefits when we listen to each other in our interactions. One of the most important elements of all three types of listening discussed today is being present in the interaction with one another. When one is present in the moment, any of these listening types discussed will automatically take place and the relationship will begin to build trust to be able to process certain emotions and gain a better understanding of one another.

Now that we have provided an overview of the three types of listening, we challenge you to utilize them in your professional and/or personal life to further enhance your relationships with others. 

Stay tuned for the next Inside Track® Blog in the ITK series.

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