An Extrovert's Listening Insights

An Extrovert's Listening Insights

"It's funny, I always felt that I was a good listener but then I realized how much I was missing when I stopped talking and really began to listen. Having cancer has taught me many things and this is one of them. During my treatments I often did not have the energy to engage in conversation so I listened to conversations going on around me, I mean really listened. It was amazing what I learned!

"As an ENFJ I always felt like if silence fell on a conversation it was my duty to fill the void with words much to my agony and I'm sure to others as well. Most importantly, I learned to not only listen with my ears, but with my eyes and heart!  I have learned that listening to body language is just as important as the verbal language we speak and that listening with my heart, trying to feel what others are feeling, actually made me a better communicator when I did speak to others. The best gift we can give others is to simply listen, just silently listen as they speak.”

Thanks, Joni. That's wonderful stuff. Your experience can certainly open the ears of many Extroverts as well as those who have little energy to socialize as they recover from medical problems. Introverts will also appreciate your visiting one of their special gifts of design-- the listening-preference. Extroverts have to intentionally learn to listen and then practice that skill daily.  We all need your reminders of listening.

Your comment also pinpoints several other aspects of communication which is covered in the first chapter of my book How to Get Along With Everyone by Blending Personalities. The quiz I give to clients goes like this: Communication involves three areas: Content, Body Language and Tone. One is 30%, one is 60% the other 10%. Which of these do you think is 60%?  Everyone usually guesses content. However, body language holds that place. Which is 30%? And clients usually project content again. Nope! Tone wins that trophy. How surprising that content claims a mere 10 %, which should remind Extroverts that what we say isn’t as important as we thought or hoped.

Reviewing body language: body position, walking away, closing eyes, eye rolling, eyebrows up, looking away, shaking your finger, pounding the table, hands in fists, putting hands over your ears like a 2 year old—the total list in the book is really amusing and accurate for many old and young.

What about tone? You know the voice! Teachers have that voice. “In your seats; now!”, or mom’s say “Enough!” with such finality stopping a 3 year old his tracks, making the quiet “That’s enough ice-cream” voice sound so tame. Some use the wrong tone for when they are really serious. Just saying Hmmm or Ohhhh in different tones sends opposite messages—good, against, surprised, etc. Try it out!

Developing our sensitivity to our automatic tones is so wise. And I’ll throw in the importance of voice volume. Some people speak so softly we strain on every word; others blast away causing us to be afraid or embarrassed. We taught our kids the difference between inside voice or outside voice, especially during car trips.

I agree with many communication specialists who suggest that listening should occupy 50 percent of any conversation, especially during a disagreement. Yes, we listen with our entire body and with our eyes which reveal much. So, your experience, Joni, captures the value of continuously adding to our reservoir of listening skills.

I’ll be happy to have any comments to this important subject..