About Listening Style

Challenges of interacting

Many of us recognise the many difficulties that can be encountered when attempting to interact with another person. The more we are in sync with the agenda and expected outcomes the greater the likelihood that an agreement can be achieved that both parties feel OK about. However, the greater the gap in agenda and expectations the less likely an agreed outcome will be reached. The question then is “why does this problem occur?”

On key answer tends to be our inability to really listen to what the other person says because we are so focused on our own agenda and therefore thinking about what we want to say rather than listen. It has been said that the best communicators are in fact the best listeners.

Being an Active Listener

Research shows that most people in the corporate world are very poor listeners. Many are so busy-being-busy that they don’t have the patience to listen. Therefore, their aim is to get their point across and this involves selling their ideas rather than listening to what the other person is saying. However, the research also makes the point that listening is the key to effective relationship, productive teamworking, and great customer service.

Listening is an active process

In most cases listening has the following three basic steps:

  1. Hearing means listening enough to sense what the speaker is saying.
  2. Framing happens when you take what you have heard and fit it into the context being expressed by the speaker.
  3. Understanding happens after you having tested that you made sense of what the speaker communicated.

Note: Effective listening is not about agreeing or disagreeing with the speaker, the primary goal is to understand the message from the speakers perspective.

Listening Styles

Because we are all different to some degree this means that we will communicate and listen in different ways. When working with one of our clients they asked if we would produce a behavioural questionnaire that measured listening styles. After a period of active research and drawing from our extensive range of behavioural questionnaires we developed an online questionnaire. After several months of detailed testing and modifications the questionnaire was added to our www.betterlifetoolkit.com site.

Feedback from respondents to the questionnaire has been consistently positive in terms of the benefits that most found in knowing their own listening style and in appreciating how it impacted on their ability to interact effectively with others.

Active Listening Programme

We received many requests to develop a programme to help people develop a range of active listening skills. Part of the programme teaches participants how to be an effective listener and here are some of the tips that are shared with them:

  1. Give your full attention on the person who is speaking.
  2. Make sure your mind is focused.
  3. Let the speaker finish before you begin to talk.
  4. Discipline yourself to finish listening before you begin to speak!
  5. Listen for the main ideas to identify the speakers agenda.
  6. Ask questions to clarify if you don’t understand what the speaker has said

If you are interested in learning more about this programme contact at tom.jaap@centell.org

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