Listening in different situations


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Face to face Face to face
When we talk to someone face to face we pick up a lot of information other than what they say:
- body language
- gestures
- tone of voice
- the words they use
These are called non-verbal cues.
The way we listen is influenced by our relationship with the person we are talking to - how well we know them and what they are talking about.
We listen differently to the same person depending on the situation; we might listen more intently to a colleague or supervisor explaining about something to do with work than if they are telling us about their weekend.

In a large group In a large group
When we are talking to one person it is easier to notice their non-verbal cues than when we are talking in a large group.
In a big group lots of people may be talking at once, or there may be more than one conversation happening. We do not have the opportunity to take in all the details. In a group situation we might only get the gist of what is being said and not everything that everyone contributes.


On the telephone On the telephone
Listening on the telephone is more difficult because we can't see the other person, we rely on them to make responses so that we know they are listening to us. There are no non-verbal cues on the phone.
Try staying silent on the end of a phone call and see how long it is before the other person asks if you are still there!
Because there are no non-verbal signs we also have to concentrate more when listening on the phone because if we miss what is being said there are no other clues to pick up information from.