Most of us don’t think about changing the way that we listen, yet listening would be more efficient and enjoyable if we did. One difficulty that listeners have is getting in the habit of listening in only one way in every listening situation.
Sales representatives, for example, often get so wrapped up in their pitch, that they jump ahead and finish the thoughts of their potential customers. By identifying their listening inclinations in certain settings, sales representatives can begin to make conscious decisions concerning whether or not to let a habitual preference dictate their actual listening behavior.
Executives, on the other hand, find it difficult, if not impossible to switch how they listen between work and home. Since many leaders have been reinforced for evaluating and analyzing what others say during the work day, many executives continue critiquing what their spouses, children, and friends have to say…which can be very irritating. One way to begin to understand how to adapt to others is to understand our own listener preferences.
Listening with a Preference
The four listener preferences are people-, content-, action-, and time-oriented listening.
People-Oriented. Listeners demonstrate people-oriented preferences when they: show care and concern for others’ feelings, identify the emotional states of others, internalize/adopt emotional states of others, or try to find areas of common interest.
Action-Oriented. Listeners demonstrate action-oriented preferences when they: jump ahead and finish thoughts of speakers, get frustrated by unorganized speakers, focus on inconsistencies and errors in messages, or show impatience when speakers ramble.
Content-Oriented. Listeners demonstrate content-oriented preferences when they: test or evaluate facts and evidence, welcome complex and challenging information, listen to facts before forming judgments and opinion, or favor listening to technical information.
Time-Oriented. Listeners demonstrate time-oriented preferences when they: let others know how much time they have to listen or tell others how long they have to meet.
The Listener Preference Profile is a way for you to learn more about your own preferences as well as the preferences of others. For more information and/or to take the Listener Preference Profile, please see our products.