How To Be A Better Listener With The 5 Levels of Listening

How To Better Listener Levels of Listening

Active listening is an important skill that everyone should have as it helps in building a strong relationship. Listening is about the other person and it’s about giving what the other person needs. Mastering the levels of listening is an art and it requires a great deal of practice. Are you willing to explore these levels?

Otto Scharmer and his team developed 4 levels of the listening model at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while he was observing the interactions between individuals at the organizational level.

The skill of listening is particularly valuable to leaders and coaches in order to understand and envision the highest future possibilities. It can go a long way once a person reaches the final stage of listening because it allows a person to pay attention to details. It requires a person to slow down, have patience, converse less, and pay attention. Research has found that an average person listens at only about 25% efficiency.

It is important to maintain eye contact while listening, to assure the person that you are paying attention. Maintain your posture and relax while listening to the other person. Listening is about connecting with other people on many different levels.

Read 44 Empathy Statements That Will Make You The Greatest Listener

What Are The 5 Levels of Listening?

One may wonder what are the levels of listening, well it can be categorized into five important levels. They are as follows:

  1. Ignoring
  2. Pretend Listening
  3. Selective Listening
  4. Attentive Listening
  5. Empathetic Listening
Levels of Listening Be Better Listener pin
The 5 Levels of Listening: How To Be A Better Listener

Level 1: Ignoring

Have you ever ignored what the other person was saying, simply because you weren’t interested? The extreme bottom level of listening is ignoring. If you get distracted while listening to someone else they can get the impression that they are being ignored.

For instance, when a person is addressing how they feel, you tend to fight back or interject which makes them feel ignored and that you are not listening to what they are saying.

Read How To Be A Better Listener: 7 Ways To Listen

Level 2: Pretend Listening

This level is mostly seen in a face to face conversation. You are talking to someone and they seem distracted. When someone is talking on the phone, if they are pretending to listen, the replies you get are usually “I see” or “Ok” or “Uh-huh”. Usually, people can tell if you are distracted while listening.

Level 3: Selective Listening

In the case of selective listening, the listener only listens to things that interest them or if they agree with them. They tend to move on to other things immediately when they find that the current conversation isn’t interesting to them.

Level 4: Attentive Listening

This level of listening entails a person carefully listening to the other person. However, they tend to decide whether they agree or disagree while they are listening in order to determine whether they are right or wrong. The person tends to formulate his response while the other person speaks instead of paying attention.

It also involves paying attention to words that are being spoken by other people rather than understanding what they are saying.  The concentration should be on the verbal aspect than the non-verbal aspect.

In all of the four levels, we listen to offer advice from our perspective and not for the sole purpose of listening.

Read How To Make Small Talk Meaningful: 9 Effortless Ways

Level 5: Empathetic Listening

Empathetic Listening is an extreme level of listening. This level requires the person to actively listen and pay attention to what the other person is saying. They have to listen in order to understand what they are actually feeling.

It is important to empathize with the other individual while listening. A person attempting to do empathic listening must have these four attributes:

The 5 Levels of Listening
The 5 Levels of Listening: How To Be A Better Listener
  • Seeing the world as the other person sees it
  • Being non-judgemental
  • Being in touch with the other person’s feelings and being aware that they differ from your own
  • Communicating about what you understand about the other person feelings

Read 10 Powerful Habits That Will Boost Your Intelligence

Sometimes listening levels can go beyond words and feelings. It is when we learn to form a connection with a person in such a deep way where you become generative with your hearing. It usually requires someone to be self-aware and be present with the other person.  When you listen to level 4, you tend to experience life as the other.

So, tell us what did you learn today from the 5 levels of listening and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between active listening and empathic listening?

In both kinds of listening one requires to give their full attention to the other person to understand them better. However, in empathetic listening, there is an emphasis put on understanding the emotional experience of the other person.

What is the role of effective listening?

Active listening is an important skill that everyone should have as it helps in building strong relationships and providing what the other person needs.

How do I stop being a selective listener?

If you want to improve your listening skills, pay attention to the person you’re having a conversation with. Don’t dismiss them, instead, listen carefully to what they have to say. More than their words, take notice of their facial expressions or body language.

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How To Better Listener Levels of Listening pin

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