There are three types of listening:
•ï Listening to Get Facts. This is when you are listening with the goal of obtaining a pre-determined set of information. You might do this at a trade show or seminar.
•ï Listening to Respond. This occurs when you want to be an active participant by adding your two cents to a discussion. An example of this is when you are at a party and someone asks what you do. You start to explain your job, and as soon as you take a breath, the other person is telling you how their relative does something like that, or relating a story about their last time he bought a house.
•ï Listening to Learn. This is the hardest type of listening, and the one that so few people seem to be able to do. It involves listening with an open mind to what the other person is saying and trying to learn something from it beyond the simple facts of the situation.
Effectively Listening to Learn is dependent on three things:
•þ Staying focused, despite the myriad of other things you have on your mind or a predisposition you may have about the topic or the speaker.
•þ Controlling potential distractions, including noise, temperature, visual distractions, or the way the speaker looks, sounds, or gestures.
•þ Resisting internal filters that suggest you know what the speaker is going to say or that you already agree or disagree with the message.
It all comes down to mental discipline and a genuine desire to learn what is being said with an open mind.