WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image

Active listening

Active listening is “involved listening with a purpose.” Active listening includes:

(1) listening carefully by using all available senses
(2) paraphrasing what we hear both mentally and verbally
(3) checking your understanding to ensure accuracy
(4) providing feedback.

Feedback consists of the listener’s verbal and nonverbal responses to the speaker and the speaker’s message. Active listening can occur in different forms, including empathetic listening and critical listening:

Empathic listening is attempting to understand the other person. You engage in empathic listening by using both mindfulness, which is being “fully engaged in the moment,” and empathy, which is the ability to perceive another person’s worldview as if it were your own.

In critical listening you challenge the speaker’s message by evaluating its accuracy, meaningfulness, and utility. Critical listening and critical thinking go hand in hand: you cannot listen critically if you do not think critically. Skills in critical listening are especially important because we are constantly bombarded with commercials, telemarketing calls, and other persuasive messages.