Join Brenda Bailey-Hughes for an in-depth discussion in this video Evaluate content, part of Effective Listening.
- Some of the listening we do on a daily basis is evaluative listening. This type of listening comes into play when we have to form an opinion after gathering information, or decide between two positions, or when we have to assess strengths and weaknesses of a proposal. This type of listening happens often in the workplace. For Brenda and I, it sometimes happens when we sit through student case competitions and we have to decide who has the most credible, persuasive, and well-researched idea.
In the business world, this type of critical listening is essential in the viability of the organization and sustainability for future growth. If audiences don't listen critically and weigh the information they have in front of them, decisions they make can be flawed. I remember being in a presentation where two different consulting firms were presenting company executives with two different directions for their international growth. Both were very well-prepared, but one of the two firms had answers to all of the questions.
They had anticipated what the listeners would want to know. They offered additional pieces of evidence for their argument, and they ended up presenting a lot more content for the executives. This additional quality gave this consulting firm a content advantage, which resulted in them winning the project. When you listen to evaluate content, put yourself in top listening mode. If you're a visual learner, feel free to sketch down and take notes. Force yourself to listen to the information presented and play devil's advocate.
No matter your listening style, ask yourself these questions. Is the speaker making a viable argument? Is the evidence she is presenting recent, credible, and relevant to the topic? Are both the pros and cons presented? Is any of the information misleading, what we call "fallacies" in the argumentation? If this was a product, would I buy it? One big caution for critical or evaluative listening is not to get distracted by the delivery of the speaker or any other external factors.
Later, Brenda will discuss distractors and other listening barriers, and believe me, there are many. A great evaluative listening training ground is news or sports commentaries. In both cases, newscasters present the facts, and then in the commentary section, they present their analysis of the situation. Listen to each of the arguments, claims, evidence, and reasoning presented. At the end of the news show, decide if the opinion presented is also your opinion, or if you would present any counter-arguments or viewpoints that were not present.
Listening to evaluate content takes discipline and focus on content only. Allow yourself time to compare, contrast, and decide on the quality of what's presented to you.
- Recalling details
- Avoiding distractions and the feeling of being overwhelmed
- Clarifying your role
- Using attentive nonverbal cues
- Paraphrasing what was said
- Matching emotions and mirroring