What is “critical listening?”

Critical listening is a form of listening that is usually not mentioned, since it involves analysis, critical thinking and judgment. Making judgments during listening is often considered as a barrier to understand a person, and there’s a lot of truth in that.

However, critical listening occurs when you still want to understand what the other person is saying, but also have some reason or responsibility to evaluate what is being said to you and how it is being said. For example, if there’s an upcoming election and you need to decide who to vote for, you probably use some form of critical listening when you watch a televised debate. You listen, AND you evaluate.

While experts on learning and communication almost universally demean the importance and value of critical listening, when it comes to real life, listening critically is used every day.

The key though, is to try to understand the other person FIRST, before one evaluates.

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