Listening is a skill that most of us take for granted. In school we’re taught how to read and write, but not how to listen. It’s as if all that’s required is a set of ears. In the real world we know that some of us excel at listening and others do not.
Here’s an quick exercise: Take a moment and think about a person you feel is an excellent listener. Now answer this question: Do you like that person? The chances that are you do, a lot. That’s how powerful listening skills are.
In my and Merrick Rosenberg’s book, Taking Flight!: Master the Four Behavioral Styles and Transform Your Career, Your Relationships…Your Life, we discuss the DISC styles. DISC teaches that there are four distinct styles of listening that occur so naturally to each style that it’s often easy to assume that everyone listens just as they do. These DISC styles are: Dominant, Interactive, Supportive, and Conscientious.
What do Dominant styles listen for? The bottom line. Nearly every D has an invisible sign on his or forehead that says: “Cut to the chase.” D’s are wired for clarity and action. Droning on about emotional problems or engaging in long-winded stream of consciousness monologues are very difficult for D’s to take. In training sessions, it is common for other styles to characterize D’s as poor listeners who interrupt with their own opinions instead of patiently hearing someone through. The reality, however, is that D’s are not poor listeners at all. They are problem-solving listeners. Skillful listening to a D means quickly sizing up a situation and offering solutions even if that results in cutting the speaker off in mid-sentence. Since solutions solve problems, the D believes that he or she is being responsive to the speaker, not impolite.
I’s are what we like to call responsive listeners. In other words, they listen to respond. So, what would an Interactive style rather be doing other than listening? Talking! Here’s an example: Early one morning an I asks you about what you did over the weekend. “Play basketball,” you respond. You will find that I’s come equipped with a personalized search engine. When you say “basketball,” the I inputs ‘basketball’ and hits ‘search.’ A series of previous basketball experiences suddenly flood the I’s brain. Instantly, the I has amazing basketball stories that he can’t wait to tell you about, as soon as you take a breath.
If there’s one skill that Supportive styles are widely recognized for, it’s listening. Their calm, reassuring nature enables S’s to listen with patience and empathy. S’s are the ideal recipient for those looking to share troubles, concerns, and challenges. Their listening skills serve as a gateway to building loyal, trusting relationships and enables S’s to serve as peace makers and consensus-finders in group settings. However, because S’s are wired to build harmony in relationships, they are often reluctant to offer their own opinions for risk of upsetting the status quo. This can create a mis-perception that the S agrees with you when, in fact, they may not.
Conscientious styles tend to be effective listeners when the subject revolves around facts and logic. C’s are listening and analyzing simultaneously, comparing what you are saying to what they believe to be true. If there’s a match, you’re good. If not, then you are likely to receive lots of questions in return. As curious listeners, C’s connect best with others through examining the content of the conversation itself to ensure quality. However, conversations that are emotionally charged, either in a highly negative or positive way, are often difficult for C’s. Their analytical nature can come across as aloof and removed from the central issue animating the conversation.
Each DISC style has listening strengths and challenges. Consciously choosing to adapt your style to the person you are with is a powerful way to build healthy and lasting relationships.
Daniel Silvert is the VP of Learning and Development for Team Builders Plus, in Marlton, NJ and co-author of Taking Flight!: Master the Four Behavioral Styles and Transform Your Career, Your Relationships...Your Life. Daniel is a sought after facilitator, performance coach, and management consultant. He specializes in leadership development, team building, and organizational development. Daniel also coaches individuals using 360-degree feedback results and behavioral style analysis. Daniel speaks at Human Resource conferences and Business Networking events around the country. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielSilvert or learn more about Team Builders Plus at http://www.TeamBuildersPlus.com or Daniel’s book, Taking Flight! at http://www.TakingFlightwithDISC.com
Tue, October 4, 2011
by Daniel Silvert filed under
- listening skills,