Speech Study Guide

more likely to be an effective speaker. There are four listening styles: • Content-oriented listeners focus on and evaluate the facts and evidence, while appreciating details and enjoying processing complex messages that may include technical information. These listeners are likely to ask questions to get even more information and are likely to understand and remember details. However, they may miss the overall point of the message and be unaware of the speaker’s feelings. • People-oriented listeners focus on the feelings their conversational partners may have about what is being said. These individuals tend to notice if their partners, or loved ones, are pleased or upset and will encourage them to continue based on nonverbal cues like head nods, eye contact, and other body language. These individuals are likely to understand how the speaker feels, empathize, and offer comfort and support. However, this type of listener might become so focused on the speaker’s emotions they may miss the message or fail to evaluate facts. • Action-oriented listeners focus on ultimate points the speaker is trying to make and tend to get frustrated when ideas are disorganized and when people ramble. These listeners also often anticipate what the speaker is going to say and may even finish the speaker’s sentence for them. Even though these listeners can anticipate what the speaker may say next, they might miss important details. • Time-oriented listeners prefer brief and hurried conversations and often use nonverbal and verbal cues to signal that their partner needs to be more concise. These listeners may tell others exactly how much time they have to listen, interrupt when feeling time pressures, regularly check the time on smart phones, watches, or clocks, and may even nod their heads rapidly to encourage others to pick up the pace of the speech. Too often, these listeners are prone to only partially listening to a message while thinking about their time constraints. According to research, people tend to listen in two ways: actively or passively, depending on the rhetorical situation. Audiences listen more carefully when the topic seems important to the audience, when there is trust and respect for the sender, and during times when the audience is not constrained by other distraction or obligations. Passive listening is the habitual and unconscious process of receiving messages; listeners are on auto pilot and tend to listen this way when they are not interested in the topic. By contrast, active listening is the deliberate and conscious process of attending to, understanding, remembering, evaluating, and responding to messages. This kind of listening requires practice. Passivity syndrome is the notion that listening is easy and the responsibility for good listening rests with the speaker. It is rooted in the view of public speaking being one way. It fails to acknowledge the transactional nature of communication, or the fact that effective communication requires active participation of both speaker and listener. Automatic rejection involves the rejection of a speaker who challenges the existing beliefs or values of a speaker. Effective and ethical listeners should allow the speaker to state his or her whole case before jumping to conclusions. Every speaker deserves a fair and honest hearing before raising objections. Genuine listening means listening actively with an open mind and respect for those with whom a listener may disagree with.


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