According to The Coaches Training Institute (CTI), there are three levels of Listening:

Level I – Internal Listening -The awareness is on ourselves in Level I.  We are hearing the other person, but we are focused on how we feel about what is being said, about ourselves and about others.  Very often we are thinking about and planning how we will respond to what is said.

Level II – Focused Listening – With Level II listening, we have a sharp focus on the other person.  Level II is about empathy, collaboration and clarification.  An observer of the conversation might see it in the conversers’ posture:  leaning forward and looking intently at one another.  It’s as if two the two people talking have a hard-wired connection.

Level III – Global Listening -A Level III conversation is spacious and open, with the participants taking in each other, as well as everything in their environment.  It includes everything that can be perceived through the five senses, as well as an attunement with emotional sensors.  It engages intuition, through which additional information is received.

Each type of listening is appropriate for different situations. Level I is useful in situations that require introspection, such as when we are being given feedback or being coached. Level II may be the way to go when someone is describing an experience they want you to know about. For problem solving and brainstorming Level III is ideal. The key is to be aware of your situation and the level of your listening. If it’s not appropriate or ideal, change it!