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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about what makes a good listener and unpack why we have a hard time listening in our modern social media dominated world.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Listening may be a dying art
  • We are all smarter when we can exchange ideas
  • Listening is how we take in nuances of people’s perspectives instead of dehumanizing them based on sound bytes
  • We are programming ourselves not to listen to people and to make wild speculative assumptions about their intentions
  • If we lose the ability to listen we lose the ability to cross-pollinate and be creative with each other
  • The highest leverage thing we can do is be energetically in each other’s space and interacting
  • Take the opportunity to conscientiously develop the skill of being with someone and idea generating in person.
  • When you are with someone in person, you can’t help but humanize them
  • It is easier to dehumanize people from a digital disconnect
  • Possible reasons why we don’t listen:
    • Insecurity: you don’t feel competent around a subject someone else is talking about
    • Discomfort: People avoid truths that are uncomfortable and may require behavior change if they hear something they don’t want to hear.
    • Overwhelm: we are inundated with so much these days it is hard to filter out all the details bombarding us. If you are constantly outputting, you can’t input
    • Boredom: it is hard to listen when you are bored. Entertainment is constant in this modern world, so we have a lower threshold for what we consider boring.
  • Two frameworks for listening:
    • Responsive listening is when you have to listen to someone to get something accomplished or get the info you need.
    • Active listening is much more directive. Much more engaged. It involves asking questions and taking control of the listening.
  • Active listening: Harvard Business Review
    • Someone who asks questions to promote discovery and insight
    • Interactions that build self-esteem – the speaker feels supported
    • Cooperative convo: a feedback mechanism that flows smoothly without defensiveness
    • A great listener will also disagree and challenge assumptions to make both parties smarter
    • Make suggestions: if you’ve already promoted discovery and insight, secured the perimeter and promoted a cooperative spirit then you can make suggestions they will trust more
    • A good listener is okay with being uncomfortable on behalf of the speaker, even when the words promote cognitive dissonance
  • Conversation requires leadership and the ability to follow.
  • How to know when you are a lousy listener:
    • You can’t wait until the person stops talking so you can have a turn
    • You mistakenly assume other people’s observations are prescriptions.
    • You don’t build compassion for the speaker: “If you fully understand another human being, the only thing you can feel for them is compassion.”
  • If you don’t feel compassion for someone you weren’t listening
  • The Judging function of Introverted Feeling (Fi) goes into flow when listening
  • As soon as Fi comes to a conclusion its listening ability shuts down
  • Extraverted Perceiving (EPs) functions may struggle to listen because they have to stay in one place
  • Big 5 model of openness is more co-related to being a good listener than personality type.
  • Listening is a skill that anybody can learn
  • You may consider yourself a good listener but does the person you are with think you are a good listener?
  • We tend to stop communicating with people who have given us the signal that they aren’t listening, like checking their phones or staring around the room.
  • Pepper questions throughout the conversation without interrogating – 3 to 1 ratio: 1 question for every 3 statements
  • If you’re asking endless questions and not offering anything in return, you are engaging in a one-sided convo
  • To improve your ability to listen, watch what you do:
    • Are you checking your phone a lot which undermines the confidence of your speaker?
    • Are you waiting for your chance to talk and thinking about what you’re going to say while the other person is talking?
    • Are you asking questions to promote discovery and insight or are you grilling them?
    • Are you trying to solve their problem or are you building credibility with them by staying present?
    • Are you securing the perimeter and putting away devices that could be distracting?
    • Are you making eye contact when appropriate?
    • Are you open to being uncomfortable?
  • Cross-pollinating ideas is how all progress happens, and if we lose the ability to cross-pollinate and idea generate, we will find ourselves becoming regressive because we lose our compassion.
  • The way of the future is compassion.
  • If we lose the ability to listen we lose the ability to have compassion.

In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about what makes a good listener and unpack why we have a hard time listening in our modern social media dominated world. #podcast #personalgrowth

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We want to hear from you. Leave your comments below…


  • Erik Bland
    • Erik Bland
    • June 7, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    Thank you Joel and Antonia, for sharing this. I realize my feedback is a bit late, since I didn’t hear this talk until it was released on Youtube today.

    I think there was a lot here that will help anyone pursuing personal growth to improve their capacity both to listen and communicate. Specifically, your experiences with the four reasons that individuals may choose not to listen (boredom, avoidance, insecurity, and being overwhelmed).

    I remain a bit skeptical in a couple of areas mentioned in this talk though:

    1) The concept that we, as a society are becoming poorer at listening (than we have been historically?). I think it’s natural as we get older to think of the past as ‘wiser’ than the present, perhaps because we were less aged/experienced than most other humans we interacted with when we were younger. As we get older and are surrounded by a greater percentage of the population that has less life experience than us, it is perhaps easy to see society as sliding downhill or losing wisdom. [Side note – I am not by any means accusing that you guys are old! I am only a few years younger than you are and would consider myself to be in the same generation]. I don’t necessarily think that our capacity to listen is getting worse as a society, instead I expect the ego inherently tends not to listen (for all of the reasons you mentioned during this talk), and developing the skill requires intent. That said, I do not have any data to support this conclusion, so I am open to further discussion.

    2) While I can certainly benefit from further development in listening (I think primarily in the areas of susceptibility to boredom and insecurity), I have another possible setback that was not mentioned in this video, and that I do not yet have a solution for. I am highly introverted and am probably an INTJ. I often find real-time conversation too fast to keep up with, especially when the topic is deep or complex (though I also find these conversations most interesting). I will often choose not to speak much because it takes time for me to digest what has been said and to be able to come up with meaningful insights or conclusions. If I am speaking, it may similarly take me some time to determine my own viewpoint on a topic, unless I already know it before the conversation begins, and nothing brought up during the conversation significantly challenges it. I tend not to keep conversations going solely for their own sake, so unless I have something meaningful to add, I will often not speak.

    In regards to these points, what does everyone else think? Are we getting worse at listening as a society? Or is it hard to know for sure? Do you have any other challenges to listening that weren’t mentioned in this podcast?

    Thanks again,


  • Ruby
    • Ruby
    • August 23, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    I agree with Lia. Many of us (especially some INFJs) could greatly benefit from the flip side of this podcast “How to Be a Good Conversationalist”. I definitely needed to work on aspects of my listening skills. Now I’d like to be a better conversation starter! Thanks for the great, helpful series you put out!

  • JR
    • JR
    • August 22, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    I’m a new listener to the podcast and an ISTJ. I was looking for something personality related to listen to while walking my dog this morning. And I wasn’t disappointed. I found this really insightful and a very refreshing take on listening as a skill. As an introvert I get extremely frustrated when I am interrupted and perceive that as being not listened to. I also considered myself a naturally good listener. But with Joel’s take on listening, it may not be quite so simple. Maybe there’s also something to add about understanding why somebody might interrupt. They may not be listening or they may actually be listening very acutely. How does one clarify this? It’s great food for thought. Thanks.

  • Wolfhound
    • Wolfhound
    • July 9, 2018 at 11:46 am

    Great Conversation – thanks so much. As an ENFP I could relate to Joel to the 1000th degree in this. At some point in my life I had to accept that very rarely, if ever, will I encounter a person who is able or willing to actively listen or create conversations with me in the same manner that I attempt to do for most of the people in my life. For these reasons:

    1. As Joel said, perhaps it is because I am trying to understand their topic better, so I ask questions to help me understand (especially if am speaking with an Sensor)

    2. If a person just needs to talk something out, I try to ask them questions that will help them hone in on their own thoughts and feelings and come to their own conclusions – without telling them what to do or giving my personal opinion. Other than one friend, the only other person who has ever done this for me in real life is a therapist. People just either have no clue how to do it, are too quick to jump in with advice or opinion, or just can’t take the time.

    3. I want the people around me to have a good time, so I’ll often ask them to talk about subjects I already know they are interested in or have knowledge about.

    4. I have been collecting ‘questions’ my whole life and so sometimes Ill throw fun questions out there like “if you could meet any celebrity who would it be?” and then follow up with questions to draw out why they are interested in that person, etc.

    I think that these type of things are what Joel was referring to when he was talking about ‘taking control of the conversation’. Perhaps ENFPs see words and conversation like flowing water and with a little direction, it can lead to great insights, greater connections, greater compassion, more memorable moments. I think I approach every social interaction with that goal, so in that way I think ENFPS are like social magicians. All of a sudden everyone is talking about ‘such and such’ – they don;t even realize how they got there, but the ENFP knows.

    I don’t think this topic is complete without a B part regarding what the different types view as a ‘good conversation’.

  • Lia
    • Lia
    • July 7, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I don’t suppose we could get a podcast on the other half of this conversation, ie being a good conversationalist..? That’s where I see my biggest struggle is. I can engage with a conversation someone else starts/leads, but initiating conversation, having things to talk about… I almost always draw a blank. I would love to be able to contribute more, both intellectually and with emotional depth (I’m an INFJ with a thinker partner, btw). The ability to lead a conversation is something I could really benefit from. Thanks in advance for any feedback you have on this!

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