After reading this chapter you should be able to:
- Describe the stages of the listening process
- Discuss the four main types of listening
- Compare and contrast the four main listening styles
In our sender-oriented society, listening is often overlooked as an important part of the communication process. Yet research shows that adults spend about 45% of their time listening, which is more than any other communicative activity. In some contexts, we spend even more time listening than that. On average, workers spend 55% of their workday listening, and managers spend about 63% of their day listening, according to Owen Hargie in his book Skilled Interpersonal Interaction: Research, Theory, and Practice.
Listening is a primary means through which we learn new information, which can help us meet instrumental needs as we learn things that help us complete certain tasks at work or school and get things done in general. The act of listening to our relational partners provides support, which is an important part of relational maintenance and helps us meet our relational needs. Listening to what others say about us helps us develop an accurate self-concept, which can help us more strategically communicate for identity needs in order to project to others our desired self. Overall, improving our listening skills can help us be better students, better relational partners, and more successful professionals. Stronger listening skills can make a person wiser about the world that surrounds them.