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appreciative listeningThe value of good listening cannot be overstated. It can be beneficial in the workplace, where you will need to hear instructions – perhaps only once – and follow them to the best of your ability. It can create a more secure home environment, in which good listening will help to strengthen bonds between family members. It can serve a person well during conversations or debates, as it will allow them to respond more rationally and to avoid mistakes in their responses. However, listening doesn’t always have to be career or goal oriented. Engaging in the act of listening can be used to help you relax and enjoy yourself in a variety of situations.

The act of listening to something for your own personal enjoyment is known as appreciative listening, and it has numerous different benefits. Appreciative listening can even help increase your self-esteem, a topic you can learn more about through this Udemy course. By listening to something you appreciate, you set aside time for yourself and doing that can do wonders for you. This can include lowering personal stress as well as raising your overall level of enjoyment and happiness.

Defining Appreciative Listening

Appreciative listening is one of the 5 types of listening – you can sign up for this course to learn more about that topic. The other four types are discriminative, comprehensive, relationship, and critical listening. Each of these listening methods has its features and methods that you can use to get more out of them. Each affects the way you, the listener, behave.

Appreciative listening is a particular listening behavior defined by when a person seeks out and listens to certain auditory information that they will personally appreciate or like. It might help them to achieve a specific goal. For example, you may choose to listen to more classical music and to learn more about it, something this Udemy course can help you with. Sometimes appreciative listening serves a need, such as listening to meditation seminars in order to self heal or fall asleep easier. Sometimes appreciative listening is just about setting aside the time for yourself to listen to what you enjoy, and nothing more.

Above all, appreciative listening is about you. Unlike informative or relationship listening, appreciative listening does not rely on any given message from the speaker. Even though the music, speech, or other material you are listening to may have a specific message, what is more important is how that message affects you, makes you feel, and inspires you.

Keep in mind that this does not mean you always have to like what you are listening to. If one of the goals of your appreciative listening is to broaden your knowledge of a style of music, spoken word, or other auditory experience you will likely come across some listening materials that you don’t enjoy as well as others. That is all right, because finding out what you don’t like is part of appreciative listening. Knowing what you do and do not enjoy can even help you to learn more about yourself.

The Three Factors of Appreciative Listening

Appreciative listening is subjective. This means it is focused on the thoughts and feelings of the listener. Rather than judge the material you’re listening to by the way it affects others, or by other’s opinions of the material, understanding appreciative listening begins with understanding three factors: presentation, perception, and previous experience.

Presentation refers to the medium in which a material is presented. This includes, but is not limited to, music, instrumentation, vocal speech or singing, radio or television, or other auditory formats. It is also affected by the setting of the presentation. For example, hearing classical music in a large concert hall is a very different experience from listening to it on a stereo system in your home or car.

Appreciative listening is not focused on which is better or worse – instead, it’s focused on you figuring out which type of presentation you like best, and why. One person might find they love listening to live music and another might enjoy the exact opposite. The temperature and size of a space can affect the way you listen as well. Lastly, the style and personality of the presenter or medium can affect the presentation as well. Spoken word poetry is a great example of this. One poet might be loud, aggressive, and speak in a rapid manner. Another might be lyrical, slow, and present in a song-like way. This delivery affects the way the listener perceives the music, but does not change the act or type of listening.

Perception is important when considering appreciative listening. This is a very fluid concept. A listener’s opinion (or appreciation) of what they are hearing may change between presentations of the material, and can even change over the course of listening. An example might be listening to a great speech. The cadence, rhythm, and delivery method of a speaker might engage a listener, but they suddenly might be turned off by the change in tone or content. A listener must listen to lots of music and familiarize themselves with the different forms in order to identify what they appreciate and what they don’t. A listener’s perception is guided by their attitude, which can affect how they react to the world they live in, and – more importantly – what they hear.

Previous experience informs appreciative listening in a way similar to perception. Often a listener knows what they appreciate ahead of time. This is because they’ve already been exposed to it. The memory of a pleasant experience can greatly affect one’s appreciation and lead them to enjoy other materials in the same genre or by the same artist even more. However, one should stay open to new experiences. By finding more things you appreciate you develop your listening skills in addition to broadening your cultural horizons.

How will I know what I appreciate? 

Only you can decide what you appreciate and what you don’t. Friends and family can recommend things to you, and this is a great way to find out about new things, but in the end they have no sway over your own sense of enjoyment.

When you listen to something new, no matter the setting or medium, always do so with an open mind. You might not like it at first, but that can change. Many types of music and auditory art can be challenging to understand at first, but this does not make it bad. It just means that you might have to work a little harder at the outset to get to a place of appreciation.

In this sense, you should be aware of your goals when you’re going to engage in appreciative listening. If you are looking to expand your knowledge base then you might be ready for more difficult music, spoken word, film, video or other types of auditory medium. If your personal goal is to relax, then listening to more challenging materials might not be right for you.

The overall point of appreciative listening is simply that – appreciation. Knowing why you are listening and appreciating what you are listening to can lead to a very enjoyable experience. Being aware of these factors will help you avoid feeling as if appreciative listening is a chore, something it should never be.

As a listener you should be conscious of what you are listening to. Learning conscious listening, something you can do in this Udemy course, can help you become more aware of what you are actually hearing whenever you listen to any type of materials. Being aware of what you are hearing, why you are hearing, and how it makes you feel will give you a better ability to enjoy it. It will also grant you the ability to discuss your appreciation of these materials with others. Simply put, appreciative listening can help you in many different ways, so begin mastering the art of this important type of listening skill today.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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