April 16, 2012

What Kind of Listener Are You?

Listening is something that does not come natural to most people. We like the sound of our own voices. We like our thoughts to be heard. We like to be “helpful.”

But are we?

Are we hearing or being heard?
In my experiences of being a counselor, conversationalist, and well…a friend, I have heard lots of listening styles. I do mean heard lots of listening….

What kind of listener are you?
I have thoughts about different categories of listeners. These are not technical terms or names, some styles I hear. I am not saying any of these are right or wrong, but there a different styles of listening for different people. There are also pitfalls to every listening style. You just have to find the right kind of listening for you.

The Match Maker Listener:
Some people communicate that they get it through matched stories. For example, someone is telling you their thoughts and you have experienced something similar. The match maker tells a similar story in order to convey their understanding and “getting it.” For some this form of listening works. Both parties feel understood. For others it can feel dismissing.

Strategic Listener:
Some communicate listening by asking challenging questions. Some people take what is being said and see the way to fix it. Some people need those questions of challenge and strategy. Some people need help in the way of direction through their processing. This type of listener helps others get to the hopeful desired end. However, some might not be ready for strategy.

Dear Abby Listener:
Some people listen with the intent to give their two cents of advice. Some people listen with the intent to share their own thoughts. Some people need the advice of others. We can get stuck, or even have blind spots in our own processes. However, Some people might not need/want feedback or thoughts yet.
Listening is Listening. Scripture says, “be quick to listen and slow to speak…” Listening is a skill. Listening is a sought after need. We so often forget that listening mostly requires just BEING present with someone, and really getting to know their hearts.

I want to challenge you to get to know what kind of listener you are. Not only that, get to know what kind of listener you need for yourself.
We all want people to see, hear, and know our hearts. I have found the best way to listen is to just be present. I ask the person if they even want feedback or just for me to listen without questions or thoughts. We can “get it” by hearing where the person is wrestling, and offering empathy not necessarily our thoughts.
However, I will say that if you find yourself saying the phrase, “How are we back on me?” or “I felt like I talked the whole time….” You might need to work on your listening skills.
Hear people. Listen to what they are not saying. Listen between the lines. Learn people’s hearts. Everyone is saying the things they are saying for a reason. Care about that thing. It matters to THEM!

What kind of listener are you?

What kind of listening do you need?

Filed under: Daily Thoughts, leadership

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