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Learning About the Filtering Process of Listening

This filtering process is based on our prior experiences, learning, personal needs and motivations. For example, if you went to church last Sunday and you also listened to all of last Sunday's football scores, could you summarize last Sunday's sermon? Could you tell us who won all of the football games, and possibly the scores of most of those games?

If you're a football fan, you'll remember the football scores. If you're not a football fan, possibly you'll remember some of the sermon. Your filtering system retains what it is motivated to keep and throws out that which doesn't serve your needs.

Consider, the process of making coffee. It consists of a solid (the coffee), a liquid (the water) and a coffee filter. The purpose of the filter is to allow the water to pass through the coffee and into the pot without the coffee grounds also ending up in the pot. The filter also will separate or block out any dirt or impurities.

As we listen to information, our mental filters will classify information, allow some information to pass through and/or block out certain information. Some of our listening mechanisms for filtering information consist of the following:

  • Past listening or learning experiences
  • Personal attitude and feelings
  • Attention and concentration
  • Personal motivations
  • Emotional expectations
  • Perceptions and preparation to receive the information
  • Prior knowledge of the information being transmitted