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Comprehensive listening (and 13 other types)

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The present blogspot will discuss comprehensive listening and 13 other types of listening. We will discuss each type of listening separately and highlight their main characteristics.

What is comprehensive listening?

Comprehensive listening is a fundamental type of listening. It is a listening that is fundamental to all other types of listening. It refers to listening to someone and also understanding the said content at the same time. 

Comprehensive listening requires active listening skills and engages various parts of brains that are involved in listening and comprehending the listened material. 

Comprehensive listening also requires the individual to have good language skills, communication skills and vocabulary inorder to listen and comprehend the material. This is crucial to comprehensive listening as linguistic aspects of speech are a major part of comprehensive listening. 

Comprehensive listening involves the wernicke’s area and broca’s area of the brain. It also includes some major parts of the cerebral cortex.

For comprehensive listening it is important to have sound knowledge and information about the language that is being used by the speaker. Many times the jargon, idioms and phrases related to a specific language make comprehensive listening difficult.

Furthermore, while in group settings, comprehensive listening by each member of the group may reach a variety of different conclusions as each individual’s brain analyzes the listened message in a different way and their brains perceive the received message differently.

What are the 13 other types of listening?

The 13 other types of listening are:

  • Discriminative listening
  • Informative listening
  • Critical listening
  • Biased listening
  • Appreciative listening 
  • Empathic listening
  • Sympathetic listening
  • Active listening
  • Partial listening
  • Initial listening
  • Selective listening
  • Rapport listening
  • Reflective listening

Discriminative listening

Discriminative listening as the name suggests is the listening associated with differentiating between the two sounds. It is the earliest form of listening that develops in the womb of the mother.

Through discriminative listening an individual is able to differentiate between two sounds without knowing their meaning or having any knowledge about them.

The best example of discriminative listening is that a toddler can differentiate the voice of her mother among many voices of different ladies in a social gathering.

Discriminative listening enables us to differentiate the dialect of two people from different origins on the basis of their language and accent.

On the basis of discriminative learning we are able to differentiate between different tones that represent happiness, sadness, fear and hopelessness.

Informative listening

Informative listening is a type of listening that involves listening to the verbal and non verbal message to learn them. This type of listening is goal directed and involves conscious efforts on part of the listener to gain maximum information.

For example, students collect notes in class in order to gain maximum information related to a concept that helps them learn the concept well.

Critical listening

Critical listening is an active type of listening.In critical listening a listener does not only listen but also critically evaluates the message being conveyed. In critical listening the listener does not only collect information but also analyzes the message for  criticism and evaluation inorder to provide judgement about it.

Critical listening is a two way listening as the listener not only listens but also questions in order to evaluate the speaker and gain deeper insight to whatever is being communicated. 

Teachers in middle school and high school grades often encourage the students to be critical listeners and actively participate in the classroom.

Biased listening

This type of listening occurs when an individual has a biased view of the speaker and is judgmental of them due to any reasons. In biased listening, individuals listen to the thoughts and views of others with a biased mind and are not open to accepting the other person’s view point.

Appreciative listening 

Appreciative listening is a type of listening that encourages the speaker to talk more and give more information. The listener in appreciative listening provides positive affirmations and reassurances to encourage the listener to talk more. 

For example a teacher encourages her students by providing positive feedback to their oral presentations.

Empathic listening

Empathic listening or therapeutic listening is a type of listening that involves connecting with other people and listening to them to make them feel heard. It aims at understanding other people’s viewpoints and understanding them without having any biased views about them.

This type of listening is often used by social workers, mental health professionals, counselors and psychotherapists. It helps them to establish a good rapport with their client and listen to them without judging their behavior and labeling their symptoms.

By being compassionate towards the speaker through empathic listening, it gets easier for the listener to support the speaker in their unpleasant state of life.

Sympathetic listening

Sympathetic listening involves listening to someone and feeling sorry about them. It is based on sympathizing with the other person and listening to them to console them so that they may pass through the rough phase of life with ease.

This type of listening takes place in familial relations and close interpersonal relations. Through the sympathetic listening we try our level best to cheer up our friend after a bad day at school or help your sibling to be at ease after failing in a contest.

Active listening

Active listening is a deliberate and conscious effort of the listener to gain maximum knowledge and intentionally attain a deeper insight by using different techniques of clarification, reflection, probing and questioning. 

Active listening has the advantage of collecting more accurate information that is both useful and effective. 

Partial listening

Partial listening is a type of listening that occurs when the listener is physically present and mentaly obtained so that the message being conveyed is not fully understood and attended to by the listener. 

Partial listening is prominent among individuals who have a habit of daydreaming or are used to taking a flight of ideas. Usually people with increased creativity are habitual of partial listening.

Initial listening

Initial listening is a type of listening that is based on interference and interruption. In initial listening the listener listens less and is more interested in questioning and intruding by excessive and useless responding.

Selective listening

Selective listening as the name implies involves listening to only a selected amount of information being provided. In other words, in selective listening the listeners listen to what they actually want to listen and tune out the rest of the message.

The selective listening has a negative impact as it makes the listener appear less empathetic and less attentive to the speaker.

Selective listening often distorts our effective communication skills. 

Rapport listening

Rapport listening is listening to build a positive connection with the speaker. In rapport listening the listener pays close attention to the content of the message being communicated, the non verbal and verbal signs and symptoms along with the affective components of the message. 

In rapport listening the listener uses active listening and responding skills to attend well to the speaker. The listener pays close attention to the speaker and shows concern for whatever is being shared by the speaker without being biased or judgmental about it.

The main aim behind rapport listening is to establish connection with the speaker and develop a strengthened bond with the speaker.

Rapport listening is of immense importance in counseling relationships and psychotherapy sessions.

Reflective listening

Reflective listening is a type of listening in which the listener listens to the speaker’s message and also reflects on the ideas, thoughts and feelings of the other person. Reflective listening is a type of listening that promotes interpersonal and communication skills. 

It enables individuals to strengthen their relations with each other and attend better to the needs of other people.


The present blogspot discussed the various types of listening that are used in our daily routine. We learned that listening types have an impact on our comprehension abilities and our relationships. We also discussed each listening type separately.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Comprehensive listening and 13 other types

What are examples of comprehensive listening?

Following are some of the examples of comprehensive listening :

Listening to news
Listening to a group discussion
Watching a friend give presentation
Taking notes during a meeting

What are the different types of listening?

The different types of listening include :

Empathetic listening
Reflective listening
Rapport listening 
Biased listening
Selective listening
Partial listening
Discriminative listening

What is called comprehensive listening?

Comprehensive listening is a type of listening that involves interpreting the ideas and words of the speaker and to gain a deeper insight into the message being conveyed by consciously making efforts.


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