The Five Stages of Listening (and why they matter to busy working dads!)

  • “In a minute!”
  • “Just give me a moment”
  • **looks down at phone to refresh email while eldest tries talking to me about his day at school**
  • “sorry, what did you just say?”
  • **thinks about the email he needs to send while the middle boy is coming down the slide**

There are lots of distractions in life aren’t there and it is incumbent on us as busy working Dads to be better at listening. Yes yes, it’s easy to say that you’re listening, to be there, but not really there. in this article by Ruby, our guest contributor and content editor, we look how how ‘just listening’ may not be as simply as it might seem.

We uncover the five stages of listening and how, as busy Dads, we can, and must, listen better!

Just listen…

It sounds simple, to ‘just listen’. But in fact, listening properly is a skill and a process that is important to understand deeply as a dad, a friend, a partner, a business person….

Being aware of the five stages of listening is especially helpful for those working dads in leadership positions. Listening properly is crucial to aid strong communication in the workplace, as every area of business is connected through communication systems, so being the best listener you can will encourage your business and work relationships to excel!

The Five Stages of Listening….

What are the five stages of listening?

Stage one: Receiving

As the first stage of the listening process, it is crucial to get this right. You don’t want to misinterpret or mishear information, so concentration is key. When someone comes to you with something, focus your mind and energy on the conversation. If it’s in person, isolate their voice from the other sounds and stimuli, focus on taking in the information correctly to ensure you understand. Things could be received in a number of ways – face to face, over the phone, email, text etc. In all circumstances, listening and taking it in to your best ability is arguably the most important step in the process.

Stage two: Understanding

This is the stage where we comprehend what has been said to us. This is the stage where misinterpretation could be occur, so asking questions is important to clarify that you have understood correctly.

If this is in a workplace scenario, you could repeat the information back to the speaker to ensure there’s no confusion. At home, this could apply to a difficult conversation, where you might be projecting things onto each other, or be distracted by your own thoughts and misunderstand what your partner is saying. This can cause unnecessary arguments. Allow each other to speak without letting your own thoughts take over.

Stage three: Remembering

If the listener can’t remember what the speaker has said, chances are they haven’t listened effectively in the receiving stage. This might be frustrating and can create confusion and miscommunications or misinterpretations during the next stage.

Stage four: Evaluating

Stage four is the stage in which you have taken in the information, and you are mentally assessing what this means to you. Your brain is working out whether the information is organised or disorganised, biased or unbiased, true or false, significant or insignificant. You are basically sussing out the speaker.

You may need go away and think about your response, rather than acting on impulse, and so this could well be the most time heavy stage. In a leadership position, and at home to your partner and children, it’s often important to be confident in your response and your interpretation.

Stage five: Responding

Responding happens both through out a conversation using nonverbal signs – head nodding, facial expressions etc. and after someone finishes talking. Your responses are signals of how well you are listening, and how you feel about what was said. Respond with honestly and transparency.

Here are some types of listening that can create barriers between receiving and understanding information:

Pseudo-listening– pretending to listen and appears attentive but is not listening to understand or interpret the information (listeners may respond with a smile, head-nod, or even a minimal verbal acknowledgment but are ignoring or not attending).

Selective Listening– selecting only the information that the listeners identify as relevant to their own needs or interests (listeners may have their own agenda and disregard topics if they do not align with their current attitudes or beliefs).

Insulated Listening– ignoring or avoiding information or certain topics of conversation (the opposite of selective listening).

Defensive Listening– taking innocent comments as personal attacks (listeners misinterpret or project feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and guilt, or lack of confidence in the other person).

Insensitive Listening– listening to information for its literal meaning and disregarding the other person’s feeling and emotions (listeners rarely pick-up on hidden meanings or subtle nonverbal cues and have difficulty expressing sympathy and empathy).

Stage Hogging– listening to express one’s own ideas or interests and be the center of attention (listeners often plan what they are going to say or interrupt while the other person is talking).

Ambushing– careful and attentive listening to collect information that can be used against the other person as an attack (listeners question, contradict, or oppose the other person to trap them or use their own words against them).

Multitasking– listening without full attention while attempting to complete more than one task at a time (listeners are actually “switch tasking” and your brain is switching from one task to another rapidly and the information is lost). 

My three kids paying close attention to the chicken shop in Spain.

Why is good listening so important for working dads?

Improving awareness around your listening skills and being able to catch yourself when you’re listening without full attention, can help you with both your home and work life as a dad. It can improve healthy communication between you and your partner, which will ultimately strengthen the relationship.

At work, it will help you understand the needs of your employees or colleagues, which will optimise all round performance! It feels good to be listened to, understood and acknowledged. Listening well will improve your work relationships and promote an open safe environment, because everyone wants to be heard and respected at work.

Being more aware of listening to others can also improve your relationship with yourself as it can require empathy and patience to really listen to and understand someone else’s point of view.

Ways to demonstrate to others you are listening fully:

  • Express nonverbal communication such as nodding and facial expression
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Don’t finish sentences or interrupt
  • Relay and reflect information to show you’ve taken it in and processed it
  • Be open minded and curious

Supporting Men & Dads in the workplace

Download our free guide to help employers create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for men and dads.

Supporting Men & Dads in the workplace

Download our free guide to help employers create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for men and dads.