Behavioral styles, communication styles and leadership styles are familiar to many business people. But have you ever wondered about your listening style?
Most self-assessments do not measure how we listen. Yet we all recognize how important listening is to communication, both in the work environment and on the home front.
It is estimated that people screen out or change the intended purpose of what they hear in over 70% of all communications and the biggest factor contributing to such miscommunications is our listening approach.
Listening styles can be used to enhance your ability to trigger right response with people you collaborate with. They give you insight into the gaps that might be there as well as what you typically focus on.
They are crucial for people skills development, your ability to gather right information, as well as in negotiation and meetings. In fact for some roles in sales, customer service, negotiation and conflict resolution they are integral to achieving excellence.
Personal Listening Profiles can help people in your organization to:
- discover their natural approach to listening
- capitalize on their listening strengths
- learn how different listening approaches impact listening effectiveness
- improve their ability to understand the purpose of different communications
- use listening approaches appropriate to the situation
- overcome listening barriers and reduce conflict
- enhance individual and team performance
The Five Listening Profiles explained
Behavioral research shows that people listen with a preferred listening style. These can be feeling oriented, such as the appreciate and empathic listening styles, or analysis-oriented, such as the discerning, comprehensive and evaluative listening styles. Here we have summarized the key features of each style for easy reference.
Appreciative Listening Profile
‘Appreciative’ listeners like to be entertained. They listen for inspiration, and prefer listening to speakers who make them feel good about themselves, which helps them relax. They are also more likely to pay attention if they enjoy the presentation, and if the speaker enjoys his or her performance. Appreciative Listeners care more about their overall impression of the speaker than the details he or she presented.
Empathic Listening Profiles
‘Empathic’ listeners want to provide the speaker with a sounding board to offer support and reflection. They are patient and find it easy to relate to a speaker’s feelings. They may even recognize what a speaker wants even before the speaker sees it clearly. Empathic Listeners reflect what they hear others saying and let others know that they care about what has been said. As a result, Empathic Listeners are often approached by people who want to “let off steam”, but if asked for advice the Empathic Listener will encourage others to decide for themselves.
Discerning Listening Profiles
Discerning Listeners want to make sure they get all the information. They focus closely on any presentation or conversation and frequently take notes so that they will not forget it. Discerning Listeners usually remember the speaker’s appearance, behavior, and voice. They find distractions annoying and will likely tune out if there are too many distractions.
Comprehensive Listening Profiles
Comprehensive Listeners relate what they hear to what they already know by organizing and summarizing the information they hear. They are good at recognizing key points and links between one message and another, even when a speaker is disorganized. Comprehensive Listeners seek to understand the rationale of the argument and ask clarifying questions. They can generally figure out what people intend to say, recognize when someone is saying one thing and means something else and can re-explain more clearly.
Evaluative Listening Profile
Evaluative Listeners do not accept something as true just because an expert says it. They tend to be skeptical about overly enthused speakers, listening for how a speaker develops the arguments and look for facts to support a speaker’s comments. Evaluative Listeners try to figure out the speaker’s intention before responding to the message and may mentally “argue” with the speaker. If Evaluative Listeners do not like what a speaker is saying, they quit listening.
How to derive additional value from listening styles
Knowing your listening profile enables you to have a more complete listening experience. By way of a gap analysis you can determine common areas that you should steer away from, and strengths that you should play to. With these pitfalls and strengths in mind, generate a personal development plan in order to quickly impact your communication and decision making ability.
Listening styles have been shown to be at their most powerful when used to improve skills such as coaching, advanced sales training, conflict resolution, increasing team effectiveness, communication and decision-making. They are also interesting to explore within your team, where they can immediately highlight communication challenges and areas where business risk is increased through a lack of listening skills.