4.4 Phases of listening - stand up, speak (2023)

learning goals

  1. Explain the receiving phase of listening.
  2. Explain the understanding phase of listening.
  3. Explain the memory phase of listening.
  4. Explain the evaluation phase of listening.
  5. Explain the reaction phase of listening.
  6. Understand the two types of feedback listeners give speakers.

Figure 4.3stages of feedback

As you have already read, there are many factors that can affect listening. So you need to be able to handle a number of mental tasks at the same time in order to be a successful listener. Author Joseph DeVito has divided the listening process into five stages: receiving, understanding, remembering, evaluating, and responding (DeVito, 2000).

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Receptionis the intentional focus on hearing a speaker's message, which happens when we filter out other sources so that we can isolate the message and avoid the confusing mix of incoming stimuli. At this stage we still only hear the message. hint aFigure 4.3 “Feedback phases”that this phase is represented by the ear because it is the primary tool in this phase of the listening process.

One of the authors of this book recalls attending a political rally for a presidential candidate at which about five thousand people were crammed into an outdoor amphitheater. When the contestant finally began to speak, the cheering and shouting was so loud that the contestant could not be heard well, despite the use of a public address system. In this example, our co-author had trouble receiving the message due to external noise. This is just one example of how just listening can take a sincere effort, but you must hear the message before you can continue listening.


ImUnderstandingAt level we try to understand the meaning of the message, which is not always easy. For one thing, it can be difficult to tell what the message was when a speaker isn't clear—did your friend say, "I think she's late for class" or "My teacher delayed class"? hint aFigure 4.3 “Feedback phases”that stages two, three and four are represented by the brain because it is the primary tool involved in these stages of the auditory process.

Because of our different backgrounds and experiences, even when we understand the words in a message, we sometimes make the mistake of giving meaning to the words of others. Suppose you have plans with your friends to meet up at a certain cinema, but you arrive and no one else shows up. Eventually you find out that your friends are at another theater across town showing the same movie. Everyone else understood that the meeting point was the West Side location, but they mistook it for the East Side location, missing out on some of the fun.

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The consequences of ineffective listening in a classroom can be much worse. If your professor advises students to “start early” with your speech, he or she is probably hoping that you will start researching right away and move on to developing a thesis and outlining the speech as soon as possible. However, the students in your class might misunderstand the importance of the teacher in a number of ways. A student might interpret the advice to mean that the rest of the task has time to develop as long as she starts. Another student might instead think that an early start on Friday before the due date starts on Monday instead of Sunday evening.

So much of the way we understand others is influenced by our own perceptions and experiences. Therefore, in the understanding phase of listening, we should look for places where our perception might differ from that of the speaker.


Rememberstarts listening; If you can't remember something that was said, you may not have been listening properly. Wolvin and Coakley state that the most common reason for not remembering a message after the fact is that it was not actually learned at all (Wolvin & Coakley, 1996). But even if you listen carefully, some messages are more difficult to understand and remember than others. Highly complex and detailed messages require excellent listening skills. Additionally, if something distracts your attention for even a moment, you could miss information that explains other new concepts you hear when you start listening fully again.

It's also important to know that you can improve your memory of a message by processing it meaningfully—that is, by applying it in a way that makes sense to you (Gluck, et al., 2008). For example, instead of just repeating the name of a new acquaintance over and over again, you could remember them by associating them with something in your own life. "Emily," you might say, "reminds me of the Emily I knew in middle school" or "Mr. The name Impiari reminds me of the Impala my father drives.”

Finally, if the understanding was inaccurate, the memory of the message will also be inaccurate.

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The fourth stage of the listening process isevaluate, or to judge the value of the message. We may think, "That makes sense," or conversely, "That's very strange." Because everyone embodies prejudices and perspectives learned from vastly different life experiences, evaluations of the same message can vary widely from one listener to another. Even the most open-minded listeners have opinions about a speaker, and those opinions affect how the message is evaluated. People are more likely to value a message positively when the speaker speaks clearly, presents ideas logically, and provides reasons to support the points made.

Unfortunately, personal opinions sometimes lead to biased reviews. Imagine you are listening to a speech given by someone from another country and that person has an accent that is difficult to understand. You may find it difficult to easily decipher the speaker's message. Some people find a foreign accent interesting or even exotic, while others find it annoying or even a sign of ignorance. If a listener has a strong bias against foreign accents, the listener may not even try to care about the message. If you distrust a speaker because of an accent, you might refuse important or personally enriching information. Good listeners have learned to refrain from these judgments and instead focus on the meaning of the speaker.


React– sometimes referred to as feedback – is the fifth and final stage of the listening process. It's the stage where you show your commitment. Almost anything you do at this stage can be interpreted as feedback. For example, you give your teacher positive feedback when you stay behind at the end of class to finish a sentence in your notes, or reach out to the teacher to ask for clarification. The opposite type of feedback comes from students who pack up their things and storm out the door as soon as class is over. hint aFigure 4.3 “Feedback phases”that this phase is represented by the lips because we often give feedback in the form of verbal feedback; However, you may as well respond non-verbally.

Formatives Feedback

Not all replies come at the end of the message. Formative feedback is a natural part of the ongoing transaction between a speaker and a listener. As the speaker delivers the message, a listener signals their involvement with focused attention, notes, nodding, and other behaviors that indicate they understand or don't understand the message. These signals are important to the speaker who is interested in whether the message is clear and accepted or whether the content of the message meets the resistance of preconceived notions. Presenters can use this feedback to decide if additional examples, supporting materials, or explanations are needed.

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Summatives Feedback

Summative feedback is given at the end of the communication. If you are attending a political rally, a presentation by a speaker you admire, or even attending a class, there are verbal and non-verbal ways to express your appreciation or disapproval of the messages or the speakers at the end of the message. You might stand up and applaud a speaker you agreed with, or you might just sit and stare in silence after listening to a speaker you didn't like. In other cases, a speaker may be trying to persuade you to donate to a charity. So if the speaker walks past a bucket and you make a donation, provide feedback on the speaker's effectiveness. At the same time, we don't always listen carefully to the messages of speakers we admire. Sometimes we just enjoy being in their presence, and our summative feedback is not related to the message but to our attitude towards the speaker. If your feedback is limited to something like "I just love your voice," you may be indicating that you weren't paying close attention to the content of the message.

There is little doubt that by now you are beginning to understand the complexities of listening and the great potential for error. By understanding what active listening is all about and where difficulties can lie, you can prepare yourself, both as a listener and as a speaker, to minimize hearing errors in your own public speaking.

The central theses

  • The receiving phase of listening is the fundamental phase in which a person hears a message sent by a speaker.
  • The comprehension phase of listening occurs when a recipient of a message tries to figure out the meaning of the message.
  • The recall phase of listening is when a listener either stores information in long-term memory or forgets the information presented.
  • The evaluation phase of listening occurs when a listener evaluates the content of the message or the character of the speaker.
  • The response phase of listening occurs when a listener provides verbal or non-verbal feedback about the speaker or message.
  • During the response phase of listening, listeners can provide two types of feedback to speakers, designed to help the speaker know if a listener understands and what the listener thinks of a message. Formative feedback is given while the speaker is engaged in speaking. At the end of a speech, summative feedback is given.


  1. Make a list of some of the abstract words that you misunderstood. What were the consequences of the misunderstanding?
  2. Reflect on your listening in class or other settings where remembering information is important. What keeps you from memorizing important information accurately?
  3. Give an example of a time when you felt your message was misunderstood or treated with perfunctory attention. How did you know your message was misunderstood or rejected? What Does This Mean You Must Do As A Public Speaking Student?
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DeVito, JA (2000).The elements of public speaking(7. Aufl.). New York, NY: Longman.

Gluck, M. A., Mercado, E., & Myers, C. E. (2008).Learning and memory: from the brain to behavior. New York: Worth Publishers, S. 172–173.

Wolvin, A. & Coakley, C.G. (1996).Hear(5. Aufl.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.


What are the 4 stages of the listening process? ›

The listening process involves four stages: receiving, understanding, evaluating, and responding.

What are the four 4 active listening strategies? ›

Key Points
  • Pay attention.
  • Show that you're listening.
  • Provide feedback.
  • Defer judgment.
  • Respond appropriately.

What are the 5 steps of effective listening? ›

They all help you ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other person knows you are listening to what they say.
  • Pay attention. Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. ...
  • Show that you are listening. ...
  • Provide feedback. ...
  • Defer judgment. ...
  • Respond Appropriately.

What are the 4 types of listening PDF? ›

7 types of listening skills
  • Informational listening.
  • Discriminative listening.
  • Biased listening.
  • Sympathetic listening.
  • Comprehensive listening.
  • Empathetic or therapeutic listening.
  • Critical listening.

What are the four types of listening quizlet? ›

  • Appreciative listening.
  • Empathic listening.
  • Comprehensive listening.
  • Critical listening.

What are the 4 items that make listening easier? ›

Here are a Few More Effective Listening Skills:

Maintain good eye contact - while not staring. Lean in slightly while not encroaching on someone's personal space. Reinforce by paraphrasing and giving feedback at the right time. Ask clarifying questions.

Which of the 4 types of listening is the highest form? ›

Empathetic listening is the most challenging form of listening and occurs when we try to understand or experience what a speaker is thinking or feeling.

What are the 4 main types of poor listening? ›

  • Calling the Subject Dull.
  • Criticizing the Speaker.
  • Getting Overstimulated.
  • Listening Only For Facts.
  • Trying To Outline Everything.
  • Faking Attention.
  • Tolerating Distraction.

What are the 5 listening types? ›

They are active listening, critical listening, informational listening, empathetic listening, and appreciative listening. Each type of listening has a purpose that can be useful in different situations or relationships.

What are the 5 importance of listening? ›

First, effective listening can help you become a better student. Second, effective listening can help you become more effective in your interpersonal relationships. Third, effective listening can lead others to perceive you as more intelligent. Lastly, effective listening can help you become a stronger public speaker.

What are 5 qualities of a good listener? ›

12 Traits of an Effective Listener
  • Listens without distractions.
  • Keeps eyes on the speaker to communicate interest.
  • Concentrates on what's being said.
  • Doesn't pre-judge the message(s)
  • Avoids interrupting.
  • Interjects only to enhance understanding using “what” and “how” questions.
  • Summarizes for clarity.
Jun 25, 2019

What are the 4 factors that affect listening? ›

As well as this, the factors affecting listening comprehension are also divided into four groups: (1) language-based factors, (2) background factors, (3) learner-based factors, and (4) teacher–based factors (Türel, 1996, pp.

What is the fourth level of listening? ›


This is the fourth level of listening. People listen to create without their personalities getting in the way of results. By connecting their own intuition with the environment, they tap into pure thoughts and ideas.

What are the basic steps of effective listening? ›

10 tips for active listening
  • Face the speaker and have eye contact. ...
  • “Listen” to non-verbal cues too. ...
  • Don't interrupt. ...
  • Listen without judging, or jumping to conclusions. ...
  • Don't start planning what to say next. ...
  • Show that you're listening. ...
  • Don't impose your opinions or solutions. ...
  • Stay focused.

What are the 5 simple exercises for better listening? ›

Follow the acronym, RASA:
  • Receive: Pay attention to the speaker.
  • Appreciate: Making small noises like “mmm” to show you are listening.
  • Summarize: Reflect back what you heard.
  • Ask: Ask questions and be curious after they finish speaking.
Nov 2, 2019


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