Listening Styles - Learn why you listen
Research shows that we have a preferred listening style. While certain situations might demand that we listen for a specific reason, there is compelling evidence that we may use a specific listening style more often and that you can identify which style you naturally use.
Think of the last time you struck up a conversation with a stranger. Were you generally interested in what the person had to say? Were you listening to try and understand their emotions, or figure out what information they could give you? These are a few of the reason why we listen, but research has found that there are at least Five primary listening styles:
- Appreciative – to relax and enjoy the listening experience
- Empathetic – to support and understand the speaker
- Discerning – to gather complete and accurate information
- Comprehensive – to organize information and understand the meaning of the message
- Evaluative – to critique information and make a decision
These five styles might be the primary style of an individual, or a person might have a combination style. Our listening style can be understood through a self-assessment like the Personal Listening Profile. When we reflect on past conversations, we can start to understand our ultimate motivation for why we listen to someone. Then, we can take that knowledge to learn how to stretch and use other listening styles when the situation calls for it.
What does our Listening Style tell us?
Think of a person who you feel really understands you. You might feel drawn to them when you are going through a difficult situation.
For this reason, you might feel comfortable reaching out to them and telling them what’s going on because they make you feel like they are really listening to you. Not just your words (although that’s a large part of it). They can listen to you and really understand your emotions.
This person has the Insight Listening Style. They listen to understand and gather information, but they also listen to understand another person’s emotions. They use the two primary listening styles of Empathy and Comprehensive in a way that is unique to them. They might not know that they have this style, but they might recognize that many people are drawn to them because of their listening style. They seek out the core meaning of the information that is being communicated, both conceptually and emotionally, and that allows them to uncover the deeper message that gives meaning to the information.
This insight is useful for helping that person understand what they listen for, and it can also be useful for helping them grow too. As an example, because they are drawn to understanding the emotional appeal behind a message, they might get caught up when listening for facts and evidence is a better approach. Additionally, because their listening approach doesn’t allow them to critically evaluate while listening, they might have difficulty making decisions or drawing conclusions in a timely manner.
Other's Listening Styles and our Expectations
Our personal Listening Style has consequences for both what we listen for, but it also alters our expectations on what we expect others to listen for. In addition to the Five Primary Listening Styles that are listed previously, there are 10 combination listening styles:
- Personal Values-Oriented
When we understand the differences between each style and, ultimately, why someone is listening, we can adapt our communication to better fit their need and improve our delivered message. Combine this information with behavioral insights like DiSC or MBTI and you can really improve how you communicate.
Find out your Listening Style
The Personal Listening Profile is an easy way for anyone to find out their Listening Style. This assessment asks us to reflect on what we listen for, and our expectations on what we feel others should be listening for. The combination of these questions gives a person their style from one of the 15 Listening Styles.
In this report, a learner will understand their listening preference. Then, they will receive a narrative description of their listening style based on their natural approaches to listening. These insights lead naturally into a person’s strengths and areas of growth that they can develop on their own or with a coach, trainer, or facilitator.
Finally, the report provides a communication gap analyst that highlights situations in which the learner might be a good communicator and in ones where they could benefit from improvement. An action plan is provided to help them focus on their own personal development.