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From Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, 6th Edition by Julia T. Woods, ISBN: 0495567647


Listening carefully for the purpose of attacking a speaker.

defensive listening

Perceiving personal attacks, criticisms, or hostile undertones in communication when none are intended.


The physiological result of sound waves hitting our eardrums. Unlike listening, hearing is a passive process.


A complex process that consists of being mindful, hearing, selecting and organizing information, interpreting communication, responding, and remembering.

listening for information

One of the three goals of listening; focuses on gaining and evaluating ideas, facts, opinions, reasons, and so forth.

listening for pleasure

One of the three goals of listening; motivated by the desire to enjoy rather than to gain information or to support others.

listening to support others

One of the three goals of listening; focuses more on the relationship level of meaning than on the content level of meaning. Aims to understand and respond to others' feelings, thoughts, and perceptions in affirming ways.

literal listening

Listening only to the content level of meaning and ignoring the relationship level of meaning.


Being fully present in the moment. A concept from Zen Buddhism; the first step of listening and the foundation of all the other steps.

minimal encouragers

A brief phrase or sound that gently invites another person to elaborate by expressing interest in hearing more.


Continually focusing communication on ourselves instead of on the person who is talking.


A method of clarifying another's meaning by reflecting our interpretations of his or her communication back to him or her.


Pretending to listen.


The process of recalling what you have heard; the sixth element of listening.


Symbolizing your interest in what is being said with observable feedback to speakers during the process of interaction; the fifth of the six elements of listening.

selective listening

Focusing only on selected parts of communication. We listen selectively when we screen out parts of a message that don't interest us or with which we disagree and when we rivet attention on parts of communication that do interest us or with which we agree.

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