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The Power of Communication: Three Levels of Listening

We all know that speaking is a communication ability that requires skills. But have you ever realized that listening is a communication ability that requires skills as well? Most people don’t take the time to learn how to listen effectively. And because of that most people’s listening skills are subpar. Have you ever spoken with someone and you know for a fact that they weren’t really listening to anything you said? That can be so frustrating. The truth is you probably have done that to someone else as well.

When you are listening to someone speak, you must pay attention to what level you are operating on. There are various levels of listening that a person can be engaged in. We’re going to talk about the three levels of listening. This is a very important game changer so be ready to take some notes.

The first level is passive listening, the second level is attending listening and the third level is active listening.


Passive listening generally involves giving the person no more than the time to express what’s on their mind. Meaning that you're not really listening to what they are saying even though you can hear what is being said. Too many people operate on this level of listening and that is not good. No bueno. If you want people to listen and pay attention to you, then you need to listen and pay attention to them.

When you are only passively listening, you won’t be able to retain any information that is being said. Now a good example of this is when you are speaking with somebody while they are on their mobile device. Instead of giving you their undivided attention, their attention is divided between you and whatever app they are using.


The Attending level of listening refers to saying “mm-hmm, I see, interesting” and behaviors such as nodding and eye contact. Doing these things makes the conversation more engaging and it makes the person that's talking feel like they are being listened to. It lets them know that you are presently there in the conversation.

Now, this is doing a little better than passive listening but it’s still not the best type of listening you can do. Because even though you give the right signals, you still don’t pick up as much information as you could if you were actively listening to them. And it doesn’t help you create that strong connection you really need to understand what the other person is saying.


The best type of listening that everyone should do is Active listening. Active listening is using listening techniques that require your full engagement and participation. By learning techniques on how to actively listen you in turn increase your skill level in communicating as well as your skill level in data gathering. You will begin to understand how to decipher information and tell what’s most important to what’s least important.

If you want to do more active listening, then use the checklist that I gave you earlier. Make sure you are focused on the speaker and that your brain isn’t on auto-pilot. It will help you to better your engagement skills by actually listening to what the other party has to say.


Always remember that in a conversation, big people monopolize listening, while small people monopolize the talking. So be sure to listen more and speak less.

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Written by

Hans Fleurimont

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