Archive for February, 2010

Judging Listening Strengths

Friday, February 26th, 2010

“I just have to make good listening my goal.”

When I asked the question, “What are your strengths as a listener?”? no one mentioned anything related to Judging.? It seems that Js don’t get much help from their Judging when it comes to listening, and that Judging tendencies are just something they have to manage.

That made me think about my own Judging function.? Is it really a deficit when it comes to being a good listener?? It’s such an asset in so many other ways.? It helps me keep my life organized and take care of others.? It helps me set goals and work steadily toward them, making it possible to do just about anything I want to do, like go on a trip to Europe with my family, finish writing a book or even learn how to use the espresso machine I got for Christmas.

Wait!? If my J allows me to be good at reaching goals, maybe that’s what can help me be a better listener.? I just have to make good listening my goal.? Or, I can change the goals I used to have into good listening goals.? Instead of the goal to “Give my opinion” why not have the goal, “See it from their point of view.”? Instead of the goal to “Solve their problem” why not have the goal, “Let them know you understand their problem.”

Js like to make “to-do” lists, so why don’t I make a “to-do” list about listening, of all the techniques that have come up in these issues.? Then, after I’ve followed all the points on the list, I can have the satisfaction of checking off one more conversation where I’ve accomplished my goal of being a good listener.? I can feel proud of one more time where I really opened myself up to another person, and let them know that they are not alone in this life.? someday I may even meet my ultimate goal, which is to do those things on my list so naturally that I’m not even thinking about them.

So we Js do have a strength when it comes to listening.? If we put “Be a good listener” on our “to-do” list, if we make it our goal, well then, we’ll probably pull it off.

Perceiving Listening Strengths

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

“I really want to know more about what people have to say.”

The attitudes we’re looking for in a listener:? open-mindedness, curiosity and tolerance, seem to come easily to many Ps.? You can see it in their faces.? They have that “I’m interested” look in their eyes, and it’s fun to talk to someone who looks like that.? I can think of many times where I’ve watched people just open up to a P, and suddenly start talking happily about their interests.

“I like to listen because I’m collecting data,” says John, ENTP.? “Once, a friend told me a long story, and after he finished I said:? ‘That’s interesting.’? He said:? ‘When most people say that, it’s dismissive, but when you say it, you’re actually finding it interesting.’”

“I like to listen because I’m collecting data,” says John, ENTP.? “Once, a friend told me a long story, and after he finished I said:? ‘That’s interesting.’? He said:? ‘When most people say that, it’s dismissive, but when you say it, you’re actually finding it interesting.”

“My strength as a listener is that I really want to know more about what people have to say,” says Anna, ISFP.? “I know?it’s important to them, but I also like to learn from other people.? When I was young, it was a good way for me to be, because I had to go to parties with a whole bunch of my husband’s business associates, who would all be talking about science.? The easiest way for me to mingle would be to ask questions.? I realized that wow, this is exciting.? I could talk to people that I didn’t know, and there were all these other topics in the world that I didn’t really know about.? Also, when I took the time to listen to other people, I got a lot of information that I could really use in my life.”

Because Ps?are so good at data collection, they can gently push the speakers to consider new and sometimes surprising information.

“I can pick out what was not said, what was underrepresented,” says Caroline, INFP.? “That’s not easy to do, because a lot of time in discussions, everyone starts following along with evidence in one direction and they totally miss that there might be an entirely different viewpoint.”

Instead of opinions or advice, which send the message that the listener was really listening to themselves, most Ps tend to naturally respond with questions, which sends the message that they are really listening and trying to understand.? Another way of sending the message that we’re listening is to repeat back what the speaker said, in our own words, to make sure we are interpreting it correctly.? One P even told us that this practice of “active listening,” came naturally to him, and was his habit before he had ever heard it described.

“When I first heard about active listening, I thought, ‘So that’s what you call it,’” says Jerry, INTP.? “I did that naturally.? People always seem to find it easy to talk to me, because I put what they said into my own words.? For example, my wife works in a very stressful job as a nurse in an infant intensive care unit.? If I ask her how her day was, and she says, ‘It was awful,’ I don’t just grunt.? I really do try to understand as she describes the problems she had with a parent today.? When she’s finished, I might say, ‘I know it frustrates you when you try to tell a parent that what they want isn’t good for their baby.’? It turns out not?to be a very long conversation, because when people feel understood, the need to tell their story over and over is not so great.

“I worked as a marriage counselor,” he continues,” and some part of every couple’s problem was the failure to communicate.? I taught them to put into their own words what they thought the other was saying.? I told them not to just parrot their words, or you’ll get a response like, ‘Don’t do that listening stuff on me.’ But if it’s in your own words, it sounds natural, and they’ll be able to tell you if you’re right or wrong.”

Thinking Listening Strengths

Monday, February 15th, 2010

“I can look at it clearly, without emotion.”

What I like about talking to Thinking types is that I know they can listen to me describe a painful occurrence without feeling the pain themselves.? I don’t want to cause other people pain, and sometimes, when I’m confiding to the Fs who are close to me, I realize it’s affecting them, and I end up trying to comfort them and telling them it’s not so bad.? With a T, I know I can describe exactly how bad I feel, because they won’t necessarily feel it with me.

“I don’t have empathy; I can’t feel what they’re feeling, but I can step back a bit and hear the logic of what they’re trying to get across,” says John, ENTP,? “I can understand their argument.”

Also, when emotions are strong, Ts can remain untouched by them and continue thinking clearly.? I wish I had a Ts ability not to feel the pain or confusion of others, especially when it’s someone close to me, because then I wouldn’t be so anxious to make it go away.

“My husband, an INTJ, is able to remain calm when I’m upset, which is not my usual experience,” says Marthanne, ENFJ.? “Usually, when I get upset, everyone around me gets twice as upset, which is quite annoying.? I remember the first Thanksgiving we spent together when we were dating.? I was cooking the turkey, and I had not allowed the right amount of time and I was supposed to take it from my house to his house.? I was all upset, but he didn’t get upset, or show impatience or condemnation for my being upset.? He just listened through the feeling somehow to what the problem and the solution were.”

“I can look at it clearly, without emotion,” says Pam, INTJ.? “If you’re looking for someone to help you solve a problem, I’m a good one to talk to.”

Also, Ts are more able to keep in mind that even though someone is making a very good case that they have been wronged, there is probably another side to the story.

“I don’t let emotions get in the way and I try to stay fair,” says Jamie, ISTJ.? “I’ve learned the hard way that there are two sides to everything, so even though their emotions are legitimate, I should not take sides based on hearing one person’s side of it.? I can listen and commiserate and say, ‘Wow, that’s really rough on you,’ instead of ‘That’s totally unfair!’”

Fs might try to be good listeners simply because people like good listeners.? But Ts usually need a different rationale.? They may decide to become good listeners because it makes them more effective in their work.? Good listening, for example, is important in the work of parenting.

“When I was raising children, I realized how important it was to be a good listener,” says Dee, ENTP.? “I raised a 6-year old and 12-year-old from my husband’s first marriage, and the first year we lived together, I was amazed at how much they demanded my attention.? They really needed to talk, especially because their mom had been dying for years.? Kids have a way of focusing your attention.? They’ll tell you, ‘Mom, you’re not listening,’”

Good listening is also important in the workplace, and Ts often get their initial insights about the importance of listening from workplace training or experience.

“I worked on a project with two other people where we had to interview managers,” says John, ENTP.? “We would get together after we’d interviewed a manager to discuss what we’d heard, but we’d spend the whole time arguing about what they had really said.? Finally, I started to take notes and write them up afterwards.? We were shocked to see that we do a lot of interpreting and extrapolating.? For example, a guy would say, ‘We manage on performance,’ and we thought he must mean he’s measuring the outcome of the training programs.? Then we’d find out he wasn’t measuring the outcomes.? ‘Didn’t he say that?’? someone would ask, but when we consulted the notes, we realized that he never said he was measuring performance.? After that insight, we became much more effective interviewers.? We could ask great follow-up questions because now we were listening to what people actually said.”

“Once we had a series of staff training on listening,” says Jamie, ISTJ.? “We’d do an exercise where you listen, and then repeat it back to make sure you understood what they intended.? My first reaction was:? ‘That’s positively silly; I know what they said.’? But when we did the exercise it was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t really hear what they were saying at all.’? Just knowing that so much miscommunication is possible opened my mind to the thought that listening isn’t just hearing, there’s more to it.

“The other part of that training was that we should not just listen to words, but also to the feeling behind it.? For example, if they said, ‘You never do your share of the laundry,’ I would think we were talking about laundry, but what the person is really saying is ‘I feel used.? We’re not honest partners.? I’m just here to do chores for you,’ It is about being valued in the relationship, and that’s what really needs to be addressed.”

Resource:? The Type Reporter, No. 98

Feeling Listening Strengths

Friday, February 12th, 2010

“I know where they’re coming from.”

Feelings are underneath everything we convey, even if it’s news or information.? Being able to understand the feelings of people, even if they are not being discussed, is a huge plus for Feeling types when it comes to listening.

“My strength as a listener is that I can get inside people’s heads and know where they’re coming from,” says Marthanne, ENFJ.? “Most people experience that very positively as a blessing and a drink of water when they’re thirsty.”

“When I listen to people I become like them; I’m in the ring with them,” says Craig, ENFP.? “I love getting inside the head of someone and walking in their shoes,” says Janet, INFJ.? “In fact, it’s energizing for me.”

Another strength of Feeling types is that they want to please people, and if they figure out that listening is a way to please people, they have a strong desire to give the gift of listening.

“I always try to act as interested and engaged as I possibly can,” says Paul, ESFJ.? “I ask them a lot of questions, and ask myself what they are really trying to tell me.? Then, I try to share an experience that is similar, so they know they’re not the only ones who feel that way.”

“Ever since I was little, I felt like listening was one of my strengths,” says Susan, ISFJ.? “I have a lot of patience, and I really, really like people.? I realized early on that people like talking about themselves, and if I listen, they like me.”

Source:? The TYPE Reporter:? The Gift of Listening, No. 98

Sensing Listening Strengths

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

“I remember all the facts and details.”

If the gift of Intuitive listeners is that they can put wings on what you say, the gift of Sensing listeners is that they can put arms and legs on what you say.? I can’t tell you how many times my conversations with my Sensing friends have resulted in my suddenly being able to move on a problem that had me stuck in place.? After I talk to them, I know the product to buy, the service to call, the information to download, or the location to drive to.

Another gift of Sensing types is that they can often remember the facts and details that people tell them.? It means a lot to see a person six months after you’ve talked, and hear them ask, “How did that problem with your daughter come out?”

“My strengths are that I’m good at keeping track of people and what they’re doing.? It makes them feel special,” says Dan, ESTP.? “For example, my friend told me a few months ago that he’s interested in a graduate program, and I asked him about that recently, and I think he liked that.”

“My strength as a listener is that I remember all the facts and details,” says Patty, ESTJ.? “A client might call me back after five years and say, ‘Hi, I’m sure you don’t remember me, but you tested my daughter.’? I say, ‘Of course I remember you.? Your daughter wore a purple sweater that day and her birthday is April 11.’? I don’t do it on purpose.? It’s just that all that stuff goes in there and gets filed.”

Sensing types are also often alert to the sensory information about the speaker, so if their words don’t match their body language, Ss will probably pick up on it.

“My strength as a listener is that I notice all the sensory stuff besides their listening:? their tone of voice, the look on their face, the agitation in their bodies,” says Sharon, ISTP.? “I may not even hear the words.? sometimes I’ll say to a person, ‘You said this, but everything about you says something else.’? I might find out later that I was right that they were stressed out, even if it was about something other than what they were talking about.? That’s why I don’t like e-mails, because you can’t see or hear all the other stuff in an email.”

Another strength of some Sensing listeners, and one that is worth imitating, is their ability to “see” in their minds what the person is describing.

“When people are talking to me, it’s like I’m running a movie in my mind’s eye,” says Patty, ESTJ.? “I’m visualizing it, and that makes it more fun to listen, and helps me really be with the person.”

Resource:? The TYPE Reporter, No. 98, The gift of Listening, Part 2

Intuitive Listening Strengths

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

“I’m able to synthesize or articulate the thoughts of others.”

Intuitive listeners are often good at taking the stories they hear and connecting them with a theory or an idea.? For example, after the Virginia Tech shootings, an acquaintance said that she was dismayed that there was no Christian prayer said at the university’s memorial service.? That bothered me, because I was thinking of all the non-Christian students that would have felt excluded during a prayer, at a time when they needed to join together in their common grief.? I repeated her comment to an ENFP friend, and his reply was:? “Our founding fathers understood the tyranny of the majority over the minority, but people today forget that.”? You can’t get better validation than to be told that you think like our founding fathers, and I’m usually grateful when Intuitive listeners take my specific experience and connect it to the general experience.

Another strength of Intuitive listeners is that they’re able to sort through a great deal of information and find the essential idea.

“My strengths as a listener are being able to synthesize or articulate the thoughts of others, particularly in group discussions, when discussion is going all over the place,” says Carolyn, INFP.? “I can pull together what I have heard.”

“If a client is really upset, I’ll say, ‘Start anyplace, and we’ll track it together,’” says Catherine, ENTJ.? “After they get all the pieces out, no matter how chaotic their story, I can feel myself consulting my Intuition, asking myself if I have the full picture.”

Intuitive listeners are also good at listening for possibilities, when something the speaker said might mean more than they are giving it credit for.?

“My strengths are that I’ll hear something in passing, an extraneous comment, a little nugget that has been thrown out,” says Dee, ENTP, “and I’ll ask them to say some more about it.? I’ll help them return to that comment and unpack it.”

The best thing about Intuitive listeners, however, is that they can sometimes listen for possibilities in the speaker, and be able to tel them that they are worth more than they give themselves credit for.

“Beyond just the data gathering, I try to help people identify their strengths, to reframe things when they’re feeling very negative about themselves,” says Craig, ENFP.? “I remember when I was a kid, walking home from lunch with this girl in my class.? She was burdened because the other kids were making fun of her.? I said something about her talents, and after that, the poison was gone for her.? When I’m working with clients as well, I try to help people see themselves so that they like what they see.”

The Gift of Listening-Part 1: How does type influence our listening?

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

In the last blog update, 16 people were asked the question, “Who is the best listener in your life?”? and 14 of them mentioned an Introvert.? Do Introverts really have a natural advantage over Extraverts when it comes to listening?

According to the type theory, Introverts have two good reasons to listen more than talk.? First of all, they have a lower need to talk because they process their thoughts internally.? They may want to share their completed thoughts with others, but that usually requires less time than thinking through something out loud.

Second, when Introverts talk, they’re using their Auxiliary function, which is not what they’re best at, so they don’t get the positive response that Extraverts do.? After awhile, they become less confident and more critical of themselves when they speak.? The role of listener becomes a better way for them to garner self-esteem.

Extraverts, on the other hand, have two good reasons to talk more than listen.? First, they need to process their thoughts out loud.? They often do their best thinking when they are talking, so they need to have several good listeners in their lives to allow them to reach clarity and understanding.

Second, Extraverts derive greater self-esteem from talking than Introverts.? Because they are Extraverts, they are showing their dominant function to the world, which is what they’re best at, whether it’s practical knowledge, possibilities, logic or caring.? When they finish speaking, they usually get a better response from others, and more of a sense of accomplishment in their speech.? It’s hard to give that up and switch over into listening.

However, just because Introverts tend to do more listening, they don’t necessarily listen well.? Although they may be silent when someone else is speaking, they may actually have a strong internal dialogue going, and may be listening more to themselves than the speaker.

Let’s face it.? It’s an effort for all of us to be good listeners.? Extraverts have to manage their external voice, and Introverts have to manage their internal voice.

In trying to become a good human being though, nothing makes a bigger difference than developing the ability to listen well.? No matter what else we do for other people, if we listen attentively and sypathetically to what they are saying, and let them know that they have been heard and understood, that will mean the most to them.