In our day to day interactions we tend to exchange information, which is completely normal, and we don’t stop to think about our communication style.
But there are times when someone, our partner perhaps, needs to talk about what they are thinking and feeling. They need space and our full attention, which is harder than it might seem, because we all have habits that make listening hard. But if we recognise our own communication style we can choose to change.
5 listening styles*
1. The Juggler — distracted listening
The juggler is someone who is regularly multitasking and distracted. They’re trying to listen but also doing several other things at the same time — social media, attending to a child, work email, are just a few examples. The juggler will find it hard to keep eye contact and miss out on the subtleties of what’s being said because they’re not giving someone their full attention.
2. The Pretender — pretend listening
The Pretender is giving the appearance of listening, but really their mind is on something else — making a shopping list in their head, dreaming about the weekend, thinking about the sports results …it could be anything because the Pretender’s mind is drifting. It’s possible to catch them out sometimes, because they’ll give an inappropriate response to something that’s been said.
3. The ‘Hurry Uper’ — impatient listening
This person is willing to listen, but only on their own terms and preferably if the speaker hurries up. They can show their impatience by glancing away frequently, looking at their phone or a clock. They might seem tense or restless. The hurry uper might interrupt or say things like: “so what’s the point?”
4. The Rehearser — half listening
The Rehearser is only half listening because they’re thinking of something to say — it could be to tell their own story: “something like that happened to me…” or make their own point “I heard that and I think…” While the speaker is talking this person is ‘rehearsing’ what they are going to say, and so they don’t really hear the full story.
5. The Fixer — ‘fix-it’ listening
The Fixer listens with the intention of solving someone else’s ‘problem’. They may interrupt and prevent the speaker fully sharing everything they have to say, because they’re so keen to find a solution and, or give advice — “If I were you …”; “You can easily sort that by…” The fixer often pre judges situations and can close down conversation.
The trouble with a list of poor listening habits like this is that it’s often easier to spot habits in other people than admit them to ourselves. If we do recognise one of the listening styles then it’s tempting to beat ourselves up, silently vowing to never say another word to our loved ones!
But the point is we’re in a better position to develop new, better listening skills if we choose to recognise unhelpful behaviour, drop off any bad habits and make an effort to change.
So if you’re wanting to be a better listener try to reflect honestly on your own listening style, which one(s) do you most identify with? What could you do differently?
Listening well gives the person speaking the space they need to talk about what’s on their mind, and conveys love and acceptance.
Someone once said: “Anyone can talk, but to listen is a gift.”
We all fall into certain communication habits, for the good and not so good, especially with our partner! Toucan Together’s Communication Module helps you discover deeper ways of communicating, grow intimacy, trust and more. Get started by taking the‘Pulse’ of your relationship with our short research-based quiz and see the health of your relationship across seven key indicators. GET STARTED NOW | LOG IN
* 5 listening skills — Just Listen course, Acorn Christian healing Foundation.