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What Kind of Listener Are You?


We all want to be good communicators, but that only works if we know how to listen too. We can’t continue to make winning points if we don’t know how our listener is responding.

It has taken me awhile to absorb that. Sometimes it is just too easy to think about what you want to say next, as soon as the other person stops talking!

Of course, in the process, the other person may have noticed my eyes glazing over, or told me something valuable that I needed to know and totally missed.

Clever moms know how this works. They also listen to the grunts, and groans, and see the raised eyebrows or eye rolls, as they hear what their kids and spouse are really saying. They know just what to say and do to keep everybody moving and happy, and still on their team.

The world is trying to communicate with us all of the time and sometimes we read it right as we really listen, sometimes not.

What's Your Style? comes at this from the angle of types as they tell us how tough communication can be when we are talking with someone with a different style. An example of this mismatch is a venter talking to an explainer. The venter thinks the explainer is patronizing. The explainer thinks the venter is volatile.

Lots of comedy film writers make a great living spotlighting this kind of “communication.” Look at the revival of “The Odd Couple,” currently on TV. Oscar and Felix come from different directions and always collide.

When we try to communicate with others who have different styles than ours, mismatches are almost inevitable.
We need to listen around the lifestyle and respond in a positive manner. That, of course, is easily said, but not always easily done.

When you are an explainer and the other person is a venter it is often tempting to yell your frustration back. This, of course, pours gas on the fire and communication often drops to zero.

But whatever style of communicating you have, if you want people out there, like your boss, your family, your co-workers, etc., to hear you and respond favorably, you have to make the effort to listen and respond around the variety of styles you encounter.

I have known people who are absolute masters in this. They are the contract negotiators of the world. They get contracts signed and jobs completed because they are able to listen to people and respond in a manner that keeps the channels open and makes the other person want to talk, rather than hang up, delete the message or shut the door.

If you know someone like this, watch how they operate and learn their tricks. They can go into a volatile meeting, and slowly but surely, put out the fires, often leaving with a fairly calm situation established, keeping the door open for future efforts.

Lifehack demonstrates how this works with a venter making demands. You can calmly say, “I see you’re really frustrated. To make sure I don’t add to that, and to make sure I don’t miss anything, what is the most important thing I need to do long term, what’s the critical thing I need to do soon, and what do I need to get done ASAP?”

Wherever you are with communicating, keep on going. It really is the only game in town and the more you play and learn the better you will do.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of plantronicsgermany

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