Courteous Listening

Before we end our discussion on the types of listening, there is one other type of listening that is worth discussing. As described by a Portuguese translator in Houston, Courteous listening, in a broad sense, is conversational and social listening. For most of us, our first inclination is to talk, “to say what’s on our minds,” and hope that someone else will do the listening. But courteous listening calls for just that: courteous listening. Like therapeutic listening, courteous listening should be nonjudgmental. We should listen out of courtesy, understanding, love. After all, we want others to do the same for us.We also use courteous listening to keep interpersonal relations intact. When we say, “How are you doing?” to an acquaintance, we usually do so mainly to keep lines of communication open. We don’t expect more than a cursory and courteous rejoinder of some sort, such as “OK, how about you?” But if the person begins telling us that he’s had a migraine for three days, that his wife’s in bed with the flu, and that his son just eloped with a woman from the local motorcycle gang, courtesy demands that we listen – at least for a while. We do have certain obligations to others: courteous listening is one of them.

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