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You may have not listened to what someone has been saying to you, either from being preoccupied, disinterested, or feeling what was being said was not important enough for you to make the effort. In contrast, it is also most likely on reflection that you have had situations where you have felt someone was not listening to you.

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The second level of listening are those people who listen to what you are saying but don’t hear a thing. The person you are talking to seems engaged and appears to be listening, but when you would expect him/her to respond in the conversation, they talk to you on a totally different subject or about themselves.

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You probably know someone like this, someone who is not only willing to listen to what you have to say, but who willingly follows up on anything that was agreed to as part of your interaction. They are active listeners, they are present, and you feel good when you are with them.

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This level of listening takes into account voice tones and the use of your other senses. You will often find the opportunity to exercise this level of listening when acknowledging a person. We often greet people with, ‘Good morning’, ‘How are you?' and the response might be the affirmative back to you, but the tone of the response tells you something different.

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The fifth level of listening is understanding, and listening to your instinct plays a key role. A person’s actions may speak louder than words, and your understanding is often realised through observations outside an immediate conversation. For example, in a meeting, there might be one person talking, but the reactions of others give you a wider understanding of the non-verbal conversation going on in the room.

Listening to your instinct is one of your greatest tools. It can literally save your life, direct what paths you choose, and help you discern truth from error, right from wrong. It is when we listen to understand ourselves that we can truly listen to others.