The Two Main Types of Listening

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As the CEO and chairman of the Cabot Advisory Group, Steven Darien helps clients improve the performance of their businesses. Alongside his team, Steven Darien works with clients on leadership, communication, and effective listening.

Most types of listening can be divided into either discriminative or comprehensive. People develop discriminative listening skills at a young age. Discriminative is the more basic form of listening and does not require that individuals understand the phrases or words being said; people only have to recognize that different sounds are being produced by different voices.

As individuals grow older, their discriminative listening improves. Adults are capable of recognizing subtle differences in tone and voice, allowing them to hear emotions being expressed regardless of whether the speakers are talking in an unknown language. Further, adults are capable of noticing differences between a person’s tone of voice and the emotions that their body language displays.

Comprehensive listening, however, requires people to understand the message being communicated. Because of this requirement, people do not master comprehensive listening until later in life, after they have learned language and vocabulary skills.

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Steven M. Darien possesses more than three decades of experience in employee relations, consulting, and organizational design.

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