"Fact, Observation & Inference," I note that, "Observation equips us with the material for thought, reflection and judgment."
Effective listening skills are essential for critical thinking and information interviewing. Listening is necessary in asking relevant questions, making accurate observations, finding and evaluating information, developing inferences, and evaluating those inferences. Of course, listening and questioning skills go hand in hand. You need to listen to what others have to say before you can ask them questions. But what are we usually doing when we're "listening"? We're usually thinking of what we want to say! In the information interview, the interviewer is often thinking about the next question rather than what the interviewee is saying. Then we miss out on important things others are talking about and lose the opportunity to ask key probing questions.
There are four types of listening in which an interviewer may engage: empathic, content, appreciative and critical. In empathic listening, we are concerned with the feelings and emotions the interviewee is conveying. When we listen for content, we are gathering information, focusing on the interviewee's main ideas. In appreciative listening, we listen for enjoyment, such as when an interviewee is telling a joke. Finally, critical listening requires that we evaluate the interviewee's message by considering the person's credibility, assessing the validity of a interviewee's arguments, evaluating the evidence used to support those arguments, recognizing reasoning fallacies , and identifying emotional appeals.
Not all your listening time in information interviews will be concerned with critical listening. You will use all the types of listening in the interviewing process. However, each type of listening has different objectives. When you set goals for listening, you use those goals to guide your approach to listening in a particular situation. As you formulate your goals, you also want to keep in mind the interview's purpose so you can gather the information you need.
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