One of the five senses is hearing, but hearing is not the same as listening. Listening is one of the most important, civil things you can do. It is a matter of integrity. It is respecting others. Listening is an art.
Active listening is paying attention to what is said, to vocal tones, to gestures. Make eye contact, focus intently on the person who is talking, and nod your head occasionally. Take in every word and make the person feel as though he or she is the only person who matters at the moment.
Cooperative listening is separating what is important from what is not. Try to understand what the person is saying with words and body gestures. Ask open-ended questions, such as “Why do you think that?” to better understand what the speaker means.
Passive listening is assuming you’ve heard it all before or you’re thinking of something other than what is being said.
Combative listening is listening to find weak points in the other person’s statements when you’re only interested in promoting your own view.
Strive to improve your listening skills today. Listen to what your clients and customers are telling you. Listen and learn….from your studies, at work, in your personal relationships.
There’s even a professional organization whose members are devoted to learning more about the impact that listening has on all human activity, the International Listening Association, http://www.listen.org/Templates/welcome.htm.
"Listening is a combination of hearing what the other person says and a suspenseful waiting, an intense psychological involvement with the other."
Michael P. Nichols, author and associate professor in department of psychology, College of William and Mary