Evaluating our listening skills is a good idea to do from time to time. When we are really listening, then we are hearing what our client really needs rather than what we think they need. This exceptional skill is essential to creating a personal brand that resonates with our client/customer. They feel valued, trusted and respected by us. The Guru of developing interpersonal skills for business people, Dale Carnegie, outlined 7 different types of listeners. Which one are you?
1. The “Preoccupieds”
They come across as rushed and often try to multi-task while talking to you. They are unable to just sit and listen.
According to Carnegie, if you are a “Preoccupied” listener, make a point to set aside time from what you’re doing to be truly present to the person speaking.
If you’re speaking to a “Preoccupied” listener, ask them if this is a good time to talk. Try to keep your conversation brief and to the point since their attention span is on the short side.
2. The “Out-to-Lunchers”
These people like to finish your statement for you. They aren’t listening, but rather focused on what they want to say next.
If this fits you, act like a good listener. Be alert, maintain eye contact, lean forward and show interest by asking questions. As the adage goes, “Fake it til you make it”!!
If you’re speaking to an “Out-to-Luncher”, ask them periodically if they understand what you are saying. Again, keep the conversation brief and concise as their attention span is short, also.
3. The “Interrupters”
They believe that their knowledge of the subject matter is greater than yours. So they interrupt to display this fact.
If you often interrupt, apologize every time when it happens. Hopefully, this will make you more conscious of interrupting and the habit will stop.
If you’re speaking to an “interrupter”, when they chime in, stop immediately and let them talk or they’ll never listen to you. When they finish, you might say, “As I was saying before…” to bring the interruption to their attention.
4. The “Whatevers”
These people remain aloof and show little emotion when listening. They don’t seem to care about anything you have to say
If you are a “Whatever” listener, concentrate on the full message – body language, voice inflection & words spoken. According to Carnegie, pay particular attention to the body language of the speaker to understand why this person is speaking to you about this issue.
If you’re speaking to a “Whatever”, grab their attention and ask lots of questions to keep their involvement.
5. The “Combatives”
These folks are often armed and ready for a fight. They seem to get some kind of strange enjoyment out of sparring with others.
If you tend to come out with “guns blazing”, try to be more empathetic to the speaker. Understand, accept and find merit in another person’s point of view.
If you are speaking to a “Combative” and they disagree or shift blame, be positive…agree to disagree or discuss what could be done differently in the future.
6. The “Analysts”
They see themselves as therapists or in the role of counselor ready to provide you with unsolicited advice. They truly believe that they’re great listeners and love to help, operating in an analyze-what-you-are-saying-and-fix-it mode.
If you are an “Analyst”, understand that not everyone needs their lives fixed or are looking for a solution or advice. Often people just like to bounce ideas off of others because it can help them find the solutions on their own.
If you are speaking to an “Analyst”, preface your questions with “I just need to run something by you. I’m not looking for any advice.”
7. The “Engagers”
These are the people who know how to listen with their eyes, ears and hearts trying to put themselves in the other’s shoes. This is the gold standard of listening. Their skills encourage you to continue talking and soon you begin to discover your own solutions and ideas begin to develop.
If you are like this, keep it up!! Give yourself a pat on the back. Your colleagues and clients appreciate this skill.
If you’re speaking to an “Engager”, take the time to acknowledge their attentiveness. Show gratitude for their time and attention.