Evaluative listening (A 3 point guide)

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In this brief guide, we are going to discuss evaluative listening, what it is and how you can deal with an evaluative listener and adopt healthier listening styles. 

What is evaluative listening?

Evaluative listening is a type of listening style where the listener interprets the message being conveyed in a critical manner. 

Evaluative listening is also known as critical or judgmental listening styles where the person listening makes a judgement about what is being said or what the other person is trying to say. 

In evaluative listening, people seek to assess the truth behind what is being said and often involves processing information while formulating our own ideas and opinions of what is being said. 

Evaluative listening involves discriminating what is being said between the lines and requires a skill that helps us comprehend what is being said or the actual meaning behind what is being said. 

This style of listening allows us to also weigh the benefits and disadvantages of an argument in the sense that what is being conveyed is helpful information or not. This style of listening is an active listening style that is crucial in decision making and problem solving as it involves analysis and judgement required of making decisions. 

How to communicate with an Evaluative listener?

While evaluative listening can be an effective form of listening and can be helpful in making decisions and solving problems. It can be a challenge to be on the other side of the spectrum. 

Managing the challenges of speaking to someone who is an evaluative listener can be frustrating in the sense that they might be highly critical of what you are trying to say.

Here are some suggested strategies to help you communicate effectively with a critical listener:

  • Prior to meeting with an individual who is an evaluative listener, design a clear, concise message. 
  • Make sure that your presentation or message flows logically and includes facts and figures.
  • Supplement your oral message with a written one handout.
  • Anticipate and be prepared for their objections and be prepared to answer them.
  • Ask them to hold on to their analysis or judgment until you have finished speaking.
  • Use your active listening skills to reflect on their point of view.

What are some ways to adopt effective listening skills?

We have discussed how evaluative or critical listening skills can be especially helpful in making informed decisions or problem solving by probing into various aspects of what has been said or presented. 

However, there runs the risk of becoming too critical of a listener to the point where the message being shared is no longer being listened to and one becomes critical simply for the fact that they are being critical- without constructive feedback.

So, let us look at some ways you can adopt effective listening skills as an evaluative listener:

  • Face the speaker and maintain eye contact as it is a key ingredient in western cultures for effective communication as it presents a desire for communication. When someone is talking to you, put aside whatever is occupying your attention and look at them even if they do not look at you directly. 
  • Be attentive, but relaxed in your eye contact. Do not stare but be attentive. BEing attentive involves being present in the conversation, to apply yourself, pay attention, and remain ready to serve or respond. It means that you have to screen out distractions- even if they are your own thoughts and feelings as an evaluative listener. 
  • Keep an open mind as they share their thoughts. Avoid criticising them mentally or openly. Do not judge without the complete amount of information that they have to give. Jumping to conclusions is something an ineffective evaluative lister will engage in, so be mindful of that. 
  • Make sure that you do not speed the other person up by interrupting or finishing their sentences. Let them go at a pace that they are comfortable with and remain attentive throughout. 
  • Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying. If you are a visual person, creating a mental villager can help you focus and keep note of key words. Concentrate on what is being said, and allow yourself to refocus.
  • An ineffective evaluative listener might want to interrupt and impose on the speaker or give out solutions when there are no solutions needed. Oftentimes when listening to a problem that is being shared, the critical listener might be quick to pick out what are some causes of the problem and possible solutions. However, it is important that you listen to the entire message before jumping the gun or ask permission before sharing your opinions. 
  • Ask questions only to ensure understanding instead of asking questions to taunt or direct the conversation in a direction where the message is not being directed towards by the speaker. 
  • Give the speaker constructive feedback instead of being highly critical of their message or giving them solutions that you think will work- remind yourself that human experience is subjective and someone who is sharing with you might not want a solution be only someone to listen to them. When they are looking for feedback, make sure that you acknowledge their effort while also sharing what your opinions are on what is stated without being pressured to conform to your opinions even if you think you are right. 


In this brief guide, we have discussed what is  evaluative listening, how you can deal with an evaluative listener and adopt healthier listening styles. 


Schilling. D. 10 Steps To Effective Listening. Forbes. 9th Nov, 2012. Retrieved on 16th Nov, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/?sh=2cb8115f3891

Evaluative Listening Definition With Examples. EnglishBiz. 16th Nov, 2021.https://www.englishbix.com/evaluative-listening-with-examples/

Frequently asked questions related to “Evaluative listening”

What are the 4 types of listening?

The four types of listening are comprehensive, therapeutic/emphatic, appreciative and critical listening. 

Is listening profound or comprehensive?

Listening can be both profound and comprehensive. Profound listening implies being attentive and thoughtful about the speaker’s feelings while Comprehensive listening requires a high degree of attention in order to understand the other person.

What makes a good listener?

A good listener is attentive to his caller- they maintain eye contact, their body is turned towards you, and appear to follow along what is being said. 

They often listen with empathy, understanding, an open-minded year and ask important questions that help you feel understood. 

They are also respectful of what is being said, and are often able to pick up on your body cues while also remaining mindful attention to the message. 

What makes a bad listener?

A bad listener is a person who interrupts, is distracted, does not hear what you say, and makes no effort to truly understand what is being said. 

A bad listener might not be able to gauge non-verbal cues, understand your message, or simply ignore your message. They might try to enforce their own opinions or give you solutions without you asking for it. 

What is the importance of listening?

Good and active listening is extremely important in any relationship as it allows us to understand another person as per their message and their non- verbalised messages. It allows us to be attentive and empathetic to the speaker. 

A good listener who is attentive and active in their engagement can help other people understand that they care and that the speaker is important as a person..

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