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(Caspersz + 2015)

 Donella Caspersz 
Ania Stasinska

" Listening is not the same as hearing. While hearing is a physiological process, listening is a conscious process that requires us to be mentally attentive (Low & Sonntag, 2013). The obvious place for scholarship about listening is in communication studies. In this domain, listening is seen as the obverse of speaking, and is conceptualised as “a process that involves the interpretation of messages that others have intentionally transmitted in the effort to understand those messages and respond to them appropriately” (Burleson, 2011, p. 27). 

When viewed this way, listening engages a sequence – of “acquisition, process and retention of information in the interpersonal context” (Bostrom 1997, p. 247), making the skill of listening to comprehend the intention of the sender’s message so as to be able to formulate an appropriate response. While interested in listening, the focus for our study is on effective listening. 

Thompson, Leintz, Nevers and Witkowski (2004, p. 240) describe effective listening as the “dynamic, interactive process of integrating appropriate listening attitudes, knowledge, and behaviours to achieve the selected goals of a listening event.” Thus, effective listening is more than a cognitive process; to ‘hear’ the listener must not only understand what is being said verbally, but also the non-verbal communication that informs what is said. 

This refers to the communication goals of both sender and listener, and the context framing the act of speech (Wolvin, 2013). In other words, understanding the contextual and ‘socially coded acoustic clues’ that are embedded in the message (Swaffar & Bacon, 1993). 

When viewed this way, it is clear that listening is both an individual and shared process. As Low and Sonntag (2013, p. 785) suggest, “listening is highly personal, dependent on our social location and, at the same time, shaped by the listenings of others as well as our relation to the speaking other.” 

Thus, listening is relational, and plays a role in the everyday development and maintenance of social and personal relationships (Halone & Pecchioni, 2001). However, as Pecchioni and Halone (2000) show empirically, the influence of listening on everyday relations is also related to the nature of the relationship between the listener and sender. "


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