Appreciative Listening

Listening for entertainment or pleasure purposes. This is the type of listening we might employ listening to music, watching television, or viewing a movie.

Auditory Association

The process by which the mind sorts the perceived sound into a category so that heard information is recognized. New stimuli is differentiated by comparing and contrasting with previously heard sounds.

Communication Loop

A traditional communication model that has both sender and receiver sharing responsibility for communicating a message, listening, and offering feedback. The sender encodes a message for the receiver to decode. Effectiveness of the communication depends on the two sharing a similar interpretation of the message and feedback (which can be verbal or nonverbal).

Constructive Feedback

Focuses on being specific, applicable, immediate, and intends to help the speaker to improve. The feedback should be phrased as “The story you told about you and your sister in Disneyland really helped me to understand your relationship...” rather than “that was great, Jane.”

Critical Listening

When we are listening, aiming to gain information with which we will evaluate a speaker, or the product or proposal the speaker is endorsing. This is often employed when we are looking to make choices, or find points of disagreement with a speaker.

“Deaf Spots”

The preconceived notions or beliefs a listener might hold dear that can interfere with listening effectively. These are barriers to having an open mind to receive the sender’s message.

Emotional Trigger

A word, concept, or idea that causes the listener to react emotionally. When listeners react to a speaker from an emotional perspective, their ability to listen effectively is compromised.

Empathetic (Therapeutic) Listening

A level of relationship listening that aims to help the speaker feel heard and understand, also appreciated. This is also known as therapeutic listening as it is employed most often by counselors, conflict mediators, or religious representatives.


A speaker aims to establish credibility on the topic at hand with her audience by appealing to ethos. This reflects the speaker’s character, her ability to speak to the values of the listener, and her competence to discuss the topic.


Hearing is a three-step process. It involves receiving sound in the ear, perceiving sound in the brain, and processing the information offered by the sound to associate and distinguish it.

Informational Listening

Listening to learn information. For instance, this is the kind of listening students employ in classroom settings to gain knowledge about a topic.

Intrinsic Motivation

Effective listeners will find a reason within themselves to want to hear, understand, interpret, and remember the speaker’s message. Wanting to pass a possible quiz is an extrinsic motivation, while wanting to learn the material out of curiosity about the topic is intrinsic motivation.

“Listener’s Lean”

Audience members who are intent on what is being said will lean forward. This is a nonverbal endorsement of the listener’s attention and the effect of the speaker’s message.


This is the conscious act of focusing on the words or sounds to make meaning of a message. Listening requires more intentional effort than the physiological act of hearing.

Listening Reminder

A note made by a listener acknowledging intent to focus on the speaker’s message and tune out distractions. A reminder might also encourage a listener to keep an open mind, or to provide open and encouraging body language.

Nonverbal Communication

Physical behaviors that communicate the message or the feedback from the listener. These include leaning in, nodding one’s head, maintaining eye contact, crossing arms in front of the body, and offering sounds of agreement or dissent.


An appeal to the audience’s emotions, trying to trigger sympathy, pity, guilt, or sorrow. Pathos, along with ethos, and logos, make up the rhetorical triangle of appeals, according to Aristotle. An effective speaker will appeal to all three.

Relational Listening

The active and involved listening we do with people we love and care about. This is listening where we acknowledge our sympathy for the speaker, encourage them to tell more, and build trust with friends or family members by showing interest in their concerns.

Writing for the Ear

Keeping in mind, when writing a speech, that you must use language, pace, repetition, and other elements to help your audience to hear and see what you are speaking about. Remember, the listener must hear and understand your message as you speak it.


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