Podcast – Episode 0232 – Being A Good Listener

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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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Showing 8 comments
  • JR

    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

    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

    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!

    • Ruby

      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!

  • Helen

    Joel- even though I know what I do in conversations as an avid listener you have today helped me understand why as an ENFP that’s passionate about authenticity I can disconnect when I talk to someone dear to me that is not present. I become monosyllabic and frustrated that they talk using words that have a whole universe attached to each one but they just don’t want to really know why they say what they say so I have to pretend to remain ignorant on the meaning of the discussion which is often to boost their ego and respond at that mundane level.

  • Joshquinn

    Hi! I have been listening to the podcast for a couple of years now and I have been meaning to share my thoughts in the topics being discussed.

    I think both the insecurity and boredom are problems I deal with when it comes to listening.

    With insecurity my aunt seems to take pleasure in discussing what she learn from the news, but she does it in such a gossipy manner that it turns me off. I do not take pleasure nor do I enjoy discussing matters on the news in such a casual manner like that. Also to put it in context I am from a family of believers and my family sometimes discusses matters that are happening at church. However those conversation to me are not only uninteresting, but they do not feel right to me sometimes (at least then they get into the politics of church). It does not help matters when that seems to be the only thing that is talked about (though it has not happen as much lately which is good). Furthermore I do not like when they get superstitious. Finally there is the conversation with my co-worker or lack their of most of the time as typically he tends to either ramble on things I have nothing to say for (or just nonsense) or discuss matter I have little to no experience in so instead I would be listening to podcast while working. The only time I pay attention when there is something he wants me to do, are coordinating

    As for boredom it’s usually happens when I am listening to something like a sermon or class lecture for example that is uninteresting or does not connect with me. Typically what would happen then is my mind would wonder to the point I am left daydreaming, but daydreaming has always been a thing for me since I was a child.

    As for times when I do listen there is either when something important is being discussed that needs to be taken care of, like when my boss tells me what to do for example, or when I am with friends/with the volunteer group I am apart of as we discuss how are days have been and what we are doing, or usually when someone needs someone to talk to for something that is bothering them. Oh and there is something interesting that is being discussed or something that resonates with me I give my full attention. The last interesting conversation I can remember having with was with one of the members of the volunteer core I am apart of and this person was discussing his trip to England. He talked about the people he interacted with, the politics that were happening over there, and the places he has been and it was fascinating form me. It was an engaging conversation we had. ^_^

  • Kathleen Erickson

    Does every conversation have to be entertaining? I am thinking of work conversations that many times need to be quick to get things done. Of course I am an ENTJ. On the other hand, I appreciated your comments about Introverted Feeling, Authenticity, being a good listener for a while at least. I get bored when I don’t hear that authenticity no matter how “entertaining” the speaker is. I can listen for a long time to a boring conversation if the person is being real with me right in the moment–I see something beautiful happening there–not every conversation is about information/data. I appreciate your framework of compassion, securing the perimeter, cooperation, esteem for the speaker, etc., as part of being a good listener Very helpful. I see where I have played into the other speaker’s insecurity, avoidance, overwhelm, and boredom. I will work on those areas! Thank you.

  • Ash

    So, my biggest caveat thought that pops up here is this: I’ve found in several relationships that the person who is most willing to control/drive through listening (and has a very tough time stepping back and letting the other person drive to the point *they’re* trying to make) is actually controlling because they’re being avoidant of a truth they’d rather not hear.

    It can be really helpful, sometimes, for the other person to lead, and also, sometimes, they may as well have a blinking sign on their forehead that states, “My mind is closed on this topic. I’ll strategically slam doors down every hallway we walk down until we reach the conclusion I want you to reach.” Which. Is that actually listening? It’s like reverse-pontification. In which case I’m more likely to dog-ear them as someone who has anxiety issues and not bring up intimate or difficult topics around them again, since it seems like they’re incapable of letting go.

    This was a very interesting podcast, and something that’s been on my mind a lot lately! Thank you!

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