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Listener preferences


Techniques Listening > Listener preferences

Action vs. Ideas | Fact vs. Feeling | Judging vs. Accepting | Self vs. Other | See also



There are several styles of listening that are typically associated with the goals of the listener. These typically appear along a spectrum as in the descriptions below.

Action vs. Ideas

A listener with an action focus is constantly asking 'So what' in terms of what must be done, who is going to do the identified action and when this will happen.

A listener with an intellectual focus is interested in novel ideas, the big picture and overall understanding of what is being said. They are more relaxed and prefer to take their time over exploring ideas and discovering new meaning.

Fact vs. Feeling

Listeners who seek facts are interested in what is real and can be proved with plentiful evidence. They are often cautious about opinions which are dressed up as facts and will question closely to identify what is true and real as opposed to that which is only supposed to be so. They also tend to think about things in logical ways and like rational thinking and argument.

Listeners who are feeling-based seek to understand how emotions are contained in and impacted by what is being said. They empathize with the other person and notice how they feel about things themselves.

Judging vs. Accepting

Some people are particularly judgmental and will quickly evaluate what others say as to how right and wrong it is and how good or bad the person is for thinking or saying these things.

An accepting position does not judge the person although what is being said may still be evaluated as more or less valid or useful.

Self vs. Other

A listener with a self focus related everything that is said to themself. They seek meaning within their own frame of reference and in relation to how their own needs and goals can be satisfied. If they do not see benefit for themselves they will clock-watch and, if they cannot turn the conversation to their own benefit, will excuse themselves as soon as possible.

A listener who places their focus on the other person is concerned about what the other person thinks and feels and whether their needs are being met.

See also

Preferences, Frame of Reference

Galanes, G.J. and Adams, K.L. (2005), Communicating in Groups: Applications and Skills (Sixth Edition), New York: McGraw Hill

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