Learn with Aileron: The 3 Levels of Listening | Aileron

Listening is more nuanced than simply hearing what’s being said. Here are the three levels of listening you use in your daily life and situations where it makes sense to use each one.

Subjective listening

Subjective listening is based on the needs of the listener. This usually looks like self-centered listening where the listener is more focused on how they’re going to respond rather than truly hearing what’s being said.

Subjective listening isn’t the ideal listening style when engaging in conversations with others, but it can be helpful in some contexts, like:

  • Listening to an announcement in an airport
  • Confirming your order at a drive-thru
  • Interacting with an automated phone answering service

Objective listening

Objective listening is listening focused on facts and logic. This head-centered listening level focuses on what’s being said but not the speaker’s intent behind the words. It’s great to use when:

  • Listening to a news story on the radio
  • Learning through an educational podcast
  • Watching an instructional video

Intuitive listening

The third listening level, intuitive listening, requires intention and practice for most people. Subjective and objective listening are many people’s default listening levels, but true, meaningful, person-to-person listening happens intuitively.

Intuitive listing focus on both what’s being said and how it’s being said. It allows you to hear the words being said and also discern the intention, emotion, and messages behind. With intuitive listening, you comprehend the speaker’s true message — which is often not clearly expressed in words or facts alone.

The applications for intuitive listening are vast. They include:

  • Navigating conflict with a partner
  • Discussing a new idea or project
  • Collaborating with others to solve a problem
  • Getting to know a new colleague at work

Learn more about listening in Leading Powerful Conversations

If you’re looking to expand your communication and listening skills, consider Leading Powerful Conversations, a workshop that will arm you with the skills you need to lead more productive, solution-focused conversations.