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5 Power Concepts of Listening*

*adapted from Wolff and Marsnik, Perceptive Listening


1 - One Process Brain Concept (O.P.B.C.)

Listening is processed in the brain my the central nervous system which processes only one thing at a time.  Observing the one process brain concept means remembering this principle and focusing your listening rather than dividing it.  However, one thing a time can be a very rich experience.  Holistic listening respects the one process brain, but also takes advantage of brain's hemispheric specialization:

Left hemisphere - verbal, analytical, digital, linear, logical

Right hemisphere - nonverbal, analogic, spatial, holistic

A good listener finds ways to incorporate both hemisphere's processes.  For example, by assessing the relative importance of "left brain" or "right brain" thinking in any given situation, a listener can effectively zigzag back a forth between attending to verbal and nonverbal messages.  


2 - Speech Thought Time Differential (S.T.T.D.)

Most speakers talk at a rate of 120-180 words per minute, but listeners can think at a rate of 400-800!  Wondering what to do with that extra time?  Summarizing what the speaker has said is an effective strategy for using the STTD.  Another strategy (although riskier because if you are not careful it can lead to silent arguing and other bad listening habits) is to predict what the speaker is going to say next and then check your predictions.  Here is an example of effective use of the STTD:

1 - summarize what the speaker was just saying

2 - "guess" what might be coming next

3 - listen carefully to see how right or wrong you were in #2

4 - make note of what was unique about what the speaker just said (or how it was said)

5 - summarize again


3 - Listener Self Concept (L.S.C.)

Self concept is that collection of qualities we attribute to ourselves.  Our self concept (SC) influences our behavior (B) and our behaviors influence the way people actually respond to us (AR) and those actual responses influence our perceptions (P) and our perception's of how others see us influence our self concept (SC) and so on... 

By knowing about how we see ourselves, we can be alerted to situations where we might not see ourselves a good listeners OR might reject good listening techniques because what the speaker is saying may conflict with who we think we are.


4 - Motivation (The big "M")

All people are motivated by needs, basic physiological, safety, love and belonging, self esteem, self actualization.  A listener can motivate his or herself by thinking about what can be gained from the listening experience.  


5 - Listener "D" Formula