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“We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.” 
-Diogenes Laërtius

We can all agree that communication is essential in life and business. The better we communicate, the more successful we are in both.

What does it mean to communicate effectively?

To most, it means walking away from a conversation where both sides understand one another perfectly.

In a complex world moving at light speed, how do we accomplish this?

One simple way; become the one type of listener everyone loves while avoiding the four types that everyone (secretly) hates.

Let’s review five types of listeners and discover which type you are in the process.

1. The “Ooh, Ooh, My Turn, My Turn” Listener

John Wayne SW Article

In elementary school, did you have the kid who practically touched the ceiling when the teacher asked a question? They were so eager to answer that remaining seated wasn’t possible.

Well, here they are again!

This type of listener can’t wait for you to finish. You struck a chord, and they’re counting the seconds to respond. You can practically see them doing a dance they’re so excited to tell.

A tell-tale sign is when their face lights up like a Christmas tree, and they take a big breath in ready for their turn.

2. The “Judge, Jury, & Executioner” Listener

GK Chesterson SW Article

You’ve probably heard this saying before, “judge, jury, & executioner.”

For this type of listener, they are judging and evaluating every word. Oftentimes, they even like to have the final say.

As you talk, they simultaneously agree or disagree with what you’re saying. Using their beliefs and past experiences, they measure the validity of your words.

The major problem with this type is they miss subtleties in the conversation. They’re too busy reviewing information in their head, and it splits their attention.

3. The “Yeah, I’m Not Listening” Listener

J Patterson SW Article

We arrived at the coldest of them all, the non-listener. Everyone can agree it’s the worst kind. It’s the type of person who blatantly turns down the volume of your voice, so you don’t disturb their peace.

Perhaps they hold a grudge against you. Maybe they have more important things to accomplish. Or they flat out don’t care about what you’re saying.

In any case, you’re wasting your breath; or so it feels that way.

These types are the hardest to be close with, whether in your circle of friends, family, coworkers, or worse, boss.

The best piece of advice for these types is that everyone has something of importance to say, so pay attention!

4. The “WIIFM” Listener

S Covey SW Article

The phrase is “what’s in it for me,” and while you’re talking, that’s exactly what they’re thinking.

This type of listener is trying hard to find the benefit hidden in the conversation. They seek a connection between their agenda with your words. The moment no connection exists, watch out, those ears are shutting down.

For this type of listener, they are narrowly focused on their agenda and can miss opportunities left and right. Which is ironic, because opportunities are usually what they seek.

5. The “Almighty” Listener

A Christie SW Article

Steven Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

However, this type of listener isn’t most people. It’s the type of person you talk with who just seems to “get it.”

They are focused on you, and nothing else in the room matters. For some reason you feel strangely comfortable with them, but don’t know why. And you find yourself talking about anything with them. All because they know how to listen.

What’s their secret?

Just as Steven Covey said, they listen to understand. No judgement, no intent to cut you off with their turn, no disregard for your words, and no concern with how the conversation will benefit them in any way.

They are present, living in the moment, and it’s an art form so few can master.

How Do You Become the “Almighty Listener?”

If ultimately we want to listen to understand, what are some tips to become the almighty listener?

  1. Practice reflective thinking.
  2. Eliminated distractions when someone is speaking.
  3. Ask someone to repeat themselves the moment your mind wanders.
  4. Focus as though your life depends on it.
  5. Repeat their words in your head as they’re heard to keep your mind from wandering.

The Moment of Truth

Now be honest, which one are you?

Do you notoriously cut people off eager to share your story? Do you succumb to distractions because you can care less about what people say? Or are you vested and listening to understand?

Of course, it’s the latter right!

As we said earlier, listening is a skill and it’s the basis of effective communication. If you want to build great relationships, friendships, and excel in life and business, master the art of listening.

Now share this with everyone you know – you’re listening right!?! 🙂