Evaluative Listening (and 7 other types)

In this brief guide, we will discuss Evaluative listening, as well as 7 other types of listening that people usually engage in. 

Evaluative Listening

Evaluative listening happens when the listener makes judgments or interpret the message accurately, and understands what the other person is saying, and in Evaluative listening an active manner is necessary, because there is a need to assess, or evaluate, what is being said. 

Unlike discriminative listening, in evaluative listening the listener might also judge the message on the basis of their preexisting values or beliefs or even knowledge, they may also assess them as good or bad, worthy or unworthy, or understand them differently compared to other people who may not have the same experiences or knowledge.

The key difference between evaluative and biased listening, which also happens based on what the person already knows, is that in evaluative listening the person listens to the other person and at least tries to understand their perspective, and rationally analyzes what has been said, but biased listening this may not happen.

An example of evaluative listening may be found in situations when the Jury listens to the cases lawyers are making, or when someone listens to a researcher present their case or research to their peers to get their inputs on what they have studied or found.

Evaluative listening may also be called judgmental or interpretive listening, and some people may also call it critical listening, but critical listening may also mean a slightly different concept, which will be discussed later.

7 Other Types of Listening

Discussed below are 7 other types of listening apart from Evaluative Listening..

Sympathetic listening

The word sympathy refers to sharing or feeling bad for what someone is going through or to understand someone’s feelings without feeling them yourself, which means that sympathetic listening involves lending an ear to the speaker’s message.

In sympathetic listening one might show understanding, compassion, and support to the speaker and we may use this kind of listening when someone like a friend or loved one calls to let us know of a difficult situation.

When someone is experiencing a bad circumstance, one may engage in sympathetic listening towards their plight, and the purpose of this type may be to let the person know that we stand with them and understand what they are going through. It is especially important when dealing with people with mental health issues such as anxiety.

Critical listening

Critical listening is different from evaluative listening because it has a specific purpose of criticizing, or scrutinizing, while also trying to figure out what is wrong with it that may be fixed, and often there is a scrutiny of the individual components of a subject that is being listened to.

An example of critical listening may be a music teacher listening to their student play an instrument or sing and some musicians listening to themselves on the recording or trying to tune their instrument may also engage in critical listening.

A professor asking questions may also be using critical listening because their purpose is to understand what the student does not know or does not know well enough. 

When someone is engaged in critical listening, their primary goal is to evaluate or scrutinize what is being said to the critical listener.

Active listening is a key component of critical listening because unless someone pays attention to the subject they cannot understand the subject, and it also involves more active behavior than other types of listening.

Critical listening also involves some level of problem-solving techniques or some decision-making processes that are directed at fixing what is wrong with the subject or the thing they are listening to.

Critical listening may also use the same processes as critical reading due to the common goal of the analyses of information that has been received and coming to conclusions about it.

Comprehensive listening

Comprehensive Listening is the  process of listening to someone and understanding what has been said at the same time, which allows the listener to spend less time making sense of what was said, and this is done in a comprehensive way.

Comprehensive listening involves the use of the parts of the brain that are involved in listening and also the structures that make memories or assign affect to what the person is listening to, comprehend and plan, and so on.

Another feature of comprehensive listening is that good communication and vocabulary skills are required to listen comprehensively, because otherwise it is impossible to follow what is being said adequately.

Comprehensive listening activates all the linguistic aspects of speech and due to this fact, this type of listening may also be important to all the other subtypes.

All active listening methods need to have some level of linguistic skill as a prerequisite, which is because our brains are always working to figure out what they are hearing.

Comprehensive listening may become difficult in cases where two different people are listening to the same thing because they may understand the message in two different ways which is because our brains work differently and our different experiences can often dictate how we think of certain things.  

This sort of thing can make comprehensive listening especially hard to do in a group setting, and places like a classroom or business meeting where numerous meanings are to be derived from what has been said can make it challenging for comprehensive listening to take place or for the listener to be able to decide what information from comprehensive listening they want to retain.

Comprehensive listening is also influenced heavily by subliminal or subconscious messages from non-verbal communication, such as the tone of voice, gestures and other body language.  

Empathic Listening

Therapeutic or Empathic listening is done to understand the feelings and emotion of the other person and it is different from sympathizing because one tries to put themselves into someone’s shoes and think about things from their perspective.

A therapist engages in therapeutic or empathic listening the most, because they listen to people to be able to help them face or work through their problems, which cannot be done when they don’t empathize with the other person.

Empathy is the process of deeply connecting with another person and it involves a realization and understanding of another person’s point of view, which is why it can be honed over time.

Empathic listening also has an emotional component to it than other types of listening, which is something most of us are capable of, which is why this skill can be acquired.

Relationship Listening

Relationship listening is something that will be used only in a close personal relationship and the primary purpose of this type is simply to develop and sustain a relationship.

Relationship listening may involve a lot of listening to things we ordinarily wouldn’t listen to, but do because the speaker is close to us and we want to know what they have to say.

Relationships listening involves more emotion than other types, and may be seen in the way lovers talk for hours and attend closely to what each other has to say when the same words from someone else would seem boring.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

Biased Listening

Biased listening is a type of unhealthy listening and it may not involve much listening at all, ironically, because it happens when someone hears only what they want to hear on the basis of biases or stereotypes they may have either about the listener or the subject.

In Biased listening there may also be a high degree of misinterpretation and it is often rooted in biases like self-serving bias or attribution biases, which makes it very hard for any speaker to convey what they want to, because the biased individual simply may not listen.

An example of biased listening might be when someone listens to a person they don’t like, and  the listener writes them off as being incompetent despite what they may be saying about why they failed on a task, because they have already made up their mind about the person’s skills.

Another example of biased listening may be found when people who have staunch political views discuss their beliefs with someone from another belief system, they may often not listen to the good points being made because they are just too used to their own beliefs and biases.

Analytical Listening

Analytical listening may mostly be used in the situation where there are soundscapes or audio compositions involved, and in this type of listening the meaning of the sounds are interpreted as they are heard.

Analytical listening is an active process of listening and an example of analytical listening might be when music producers listen to the singer and try to figure out what kind of music would go with their song, or when they analyse the timbres and textures of a voice.

Analytical listening may be used most in cases where the goal is to elicit the best vocal performance. 

Evaluative listening Is Successful When We Pay Attention

Evaluative listening is successful when we:

  • Pay Attention to the subject
  • Have some degree of prior knowledge
  • Understand the subject well as it is spoken
  • Finish listening with a good idea of what was said.


In this brief guide, we discussed Evaluative listening, as well as 7 other types of listening that people usually engage in. 

Listening is an extremely important thing that people need to engage in so that they may learn more about their environment and attend to the various things around them.

Evaluative listening can happen whenever we try to understand our surroundings and try to make sense of what we are listening to at the level of the components of the subject.

Evaluative listening is very important whenever someone pays close attention to what they are hearing, and it can make understanding the stimulus in the environment fairly easy to understand.

If you have any more questions or comments about Evaluative Listening, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Evaluative Listening

What is evaluating listening?

Evaluating listening refers to the process by which a listener judges the content of the message or the character of the speaker as they are listening to the message. 

The evaluating stage of listening usually happens before the responding stage of listening, in which the listener may provide verbal or nonverbal feedback about the speaker or message.

What are the 5 types of listening?

The 5 types of listening are:

Appreciative listening.
Empathic listening. 
Discerning listening.
Comprehensive listening. 
Evaluative listening.

What are the 4 types of listening?

The four types of listening are appreciative, empathic, comprehensive, and critical.

These 4 types of listening may occur depending on what the purpose of listening is as well as in what context the message is being heard, or the skills and abilities of the listener.

What are the 7 types of listening?

Given below are the 7 types of listening:

Critical listening. 
Biased listening. 
Evaluative listening
Discriminative listening.
Empathetic listening.
Comprehension listening. 
Appreciative listening. 
Sympathetic listening. 

What are effective listening skills?

Effective listening skills refer to the ability of the listener to actively understand any and all information provided by the speaker, and the process by which they decide if they want to display interest in the topic discussed. 

Effective listening includes providing the speaker with feedback or making decisions regarding asking the pertinent questions and these may usually be ways in which the message is being understood.

What are the six steps of the listening process?

The 6 steps of the listening process are hearing, selecting, attending, understanding, evaluating and remembering. The final step of responding to the message heard may not necessarily be a part of the process, but it is still related to these 6 steps of listening.

What is difference between listening and hearing?

The difference between Listening and Hearing is that while hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear, while Listening is what someone consciously chooses to do.

If someone is not hearing impaired, hearing may automatically happen, in fact, we are probably hearing many things right now as well, but listening only happens when we actively choose to focus or pay attention.






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