Pseudo listening vs True listening (Differences)

In this article, we talk about the differences between pseudo listening and true listening. We also talk about the blocks of listening and other types of listening also.

What is pseudo listening?

Pseudo listening, also known as false listening means listening without paying attention. Pseudolistening is a type of non-listening where the listener is either partially listening or totally ignoring the speaker. The aim of pseudolistening is not to listen, but to simply satisfy some other need of the listener.

Pseudo-listening refers to a style of non-listening where a person appears attentive in conversation but they are actually ignoring the speaker, or only partially listening. People become pseudo listeners when they have to fulfill some other requirement for the speaker than actually listening to them.

What is a Pseudo listener?

A pseudo listener is someone who only listens to make the other person think they are listening while not actually paying attention to what the speaker is saying. In pseudo listening, the person does not necessarily retain anything to which they are apparently listening.

We all practised pseudo listening at least once in our lives. We all found ourselves thinking about anything other than what the speaker in front of us was talking about.

Pseudo listening is about pretending to be listening when you actually think of something else.

True listeners vs. pseudo listeners

Being quiet while someone else is talking doesn’t mean that we are really listening.

True listening is based on the intention to make the following four things:

1.- Understand someone

2.- Enjoy with someone

3.- Learn something

4.- Help or comfort.

If you want to understand someone, you can really help them by listening. When you’re enjoying a conversation or you intend to learn something, listening is natural.

When you want to help someone who expresses their feelings, you are involved by listening. 

The key to really listen is to want and to set out to do it.

Unfortunately, many pseudo listeners pretend they are paying attention, but their intention is not that of listening, but to satisfy other needs. 

Some of the typical needs that pseudo-listeners have are:

  • Make people think they are interested in a particular subject.
  • Make sure they are not being rejected by a group.
  • They tend to listen to only a specific part of the information, ignoring everything else.
  • They need time to prepare their next comment.
  • They listen halfway so that someone listens to them
  • Listen to find the vulnerable points of someone or take advantage of them.
  • Find the weak points of a discussion in order to have ammunition to attack.
  • To control how people react and to say only desirable things
  • Half listen because you don’t know how to get out of a situation without irritating or offending anyone.

Why keeps us from being good listeners?

Comparing –  Comparisons make it hard for you to listen because you are all the time trying to assess who is more resourceful, competent and emotionally healthy – whether you or the other.

While someone is talking you may think, “Could I do it so well?; I’ve had a worse time, he doesn’t know how hard it is;  I earn more money; My children

are smarter, etc.” You cannot assimilate many things because you’re too hell-bent on measuring whether you are up to it.

Reading thoughts – He who reads thought does not pay much attention to what people say and in fact, often mistrust others; “She says she wants to go to the show

but I bet she is tired and wants to relax. I know she would feel bad if I forced her to go when she didn’t want to. ”- The mind reader pays more attention to intonation and small gestures than words, striving to get to the truth.

These notions are born from intuitions, hunches and indefinable doubts, but most of the time they have little to do with what actually people want to tell you.

Rehearsing – You don’t have time to listen if you’re rehearsing what

you’re going to say. The preparation of your next comment

grabs all your attention. You have to seem interested, but your mind is travelling a mile a minute because you have a story to tell or someone to convince.

Some people rehearse a whole chain of answers: “I will say, then he will say, then I will say and he will say and so on ”.

Filtering. When you filter, you hear some things and others don’t. You pay enough attention to see if someone is angry or unhappy or if you are emotionally in

danger. When you are sure there is none of this in communication, you let your mind wander. 

Another way to filter is to simply avoid hearing certain things, particularly something threatening, negative, critical or unpleasant.

It is as if the words had not been pronounced; you just forget about them.

Judging –  Negative labels have enormous power. Yes, you judge someone as stupid, imbecile or incompetent, you don’t pay much attention to what one says, because you’ve already labelled them.

A basic rule of listening is to judge only after having heard and evaluated the content of the message.

Dreaming –  You’re pseudo listening and something the person has said suddenly starts a chain of association of ideas.

Your neighbour has been fired and in an instant, you remember the time when you were fired for playing cards during the long breaks for breakfast. 

You are more likely to dream when you feel bored or anxious.

But if you are daydreaming a lot in the presence of certain people, that can indicate a lack of commitment to know them or appreciate them or at least it’s proof that you don’t

you value what they have to say.

Giving advice – You are a great problem solver, you are always ready to help and advise.

You still haven’t heard the third sentence and you’re already looking for the

proper advice. You don’t hear the feelings and you don’t get to recognize the suffering of others. 

Arguing –  You adopt very firm attitudes and are clear with your beliefs and preferences.

The best way to avoid arguing is by repeating and admitting what you’ve heard and looking for something to agree with.

A type of arguing is to make sarcastic and harsh remarks, to dismiss the point from the other person’s view.

Communication is rapidly heading towards the stereotypical models in which each person repeats a familiar hostile litany.

The need to be right –  Being right means that you will do everything possible

(misrepresent the facts, start screaming, find excuses, make accusations or blame the past) to avoid making mistakes.

You can’t hear the criticism, no one can correct you and you cannot admit suggestions for changes.

Other types of listening

Besides appreciative, which is our main theme for this article, there are other 13 different types of listening.

Discriminative listening – This is the most rudimentary form of listening that we humans are capable of.

Discriminative listening is about the vibrations and sounds of the interlocutor’s voice. This type of listening is very important because it communicates the message behind the words.

Basically, discriminatory listening helps us to capture emotions from the other person’s voice.

Informational listening – A type of listening to that requires immense concentration. This form of listening is about the ability to receive the information the speaker wants to convey.

Informational listening is about learning what you hear.

Comprehensive Listening – A type of listening that we practice almost daily. For example, when you are attending a lecture or you are having a conversation with your friend, you practice comprehensive listening.

The purpose of this type of listening is to understand best the message of our interlocutor. 

Therapeutic or Empathic Listening – A type of listening to that prioritizes the mental state, emotions and feelings of the speaker.

As an example, you can practice empathic listening when someone gives you advice or asks you for a sensitive issue or topic.

Selective listening – A negative way of listening to someone. This type of listening can often cause conflicts or misunderstandings between people.

Selective listening involves filtering the speaker’s message and selecting from what he or she says, a part that affects you or that interests you most.

Rapport listening  – Oftentimes practised by sellers. Their interest is to make you feel important, understood and valuable.

Therefore, people who practice listening will do everything they can to please the interlocutor.

Evaluative listening – It occurs when the interlocutor tries to convince us by influencing our attitudes, beliefs or ideas.

We listen and evaluate the received message so that we can make the appropriate decisions regarding the received message. Evaluative listening is also called critical listening.

Appreciative listening Appreciative listening is one through which we listen without paying

attention, in a relaxed way, seeking pleasure or inspiration. We hear about

entertainment. We don’t actually pay attention. 

Deep listening – It means being fully present and ready to listen to the other person.

This form of listening involves empathy, understanding, unconditional respect for the other person.

High integrity listening – It implies that you know how to listen with integrity.

Integrity is the kind of virtue that encompasses a series of moral traits of a person, such as honesty, respect for oneself and others. 

Judgmental listening – It is practised by those who, in communicating with others, spend most of their time analyzing and evaluating what the other person is saying.

These people do not shy away from expressing their opinion even if it comes in contention with everything the speaker has said. 

Sympathetic listening – It is somehow resembling empathetic listening.

This type of communication requires special attention to the emotions of the interlocutor.

Sympathetic listening allows you to express your emotions about what you hear. 

Relationship listening – It is about the connection that is formed between people when they communicate.

The stronger this connection is, the easier the two people can understand each other.


In this article, we talked about the differences between pseudo listening and true listening. We also talked about the blocks of listening and other types of listening also.

Pseudo listening, also known as false listening means listening without paying attention. We all practised pseudo listening at least once in our lives.

We all found ourselves thinking about anything other than what the speaker in front of us was talking about.

Pseudo listening is about pretending to be listening when you actually think of something else.

If you have questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ about pseudo listening

What is a pseudo listening example?

A pseudo listening example is watching the TV while talking on the phone, watching a movie while completing work, scrolling on social media while talking with your partner, and so on. 

What are the four main causes of poor listening?

The four main causes of poor listening are making comparisons, jumping to conclusions, the need to always be right and constantly finding arguments.

What is the difference between real and pseudo listening?

Real listening is when you actively listen to the interlocutor’s message, while pseudo listening means not paying too much attention or thinking of something else while in a conversation. 

What is empathic active listening?

Empathic active listening is essential in cultivating quality relationships.

It creates human connection, closeness, appreciation and affection.

Is a type of listening that makes the other feel heard, appreciated and valued. 

What makes a good listener?

A good listener is attentive to his caller.

Listen with empathy, understanding, and open-minded ears and ask important questions.

A good listener knows that not everything is solved, as if by magic, just by having a conversation. Instead, it takes time and openness.


Active Listening, by Carl R. Rogers

Active Listening: Improve Your Conversation Skills, Learn Effective Communication Techniques: Achieve Successful Relationships: With 6 Essential Guidelines, by Joseph Sorensen

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