How do you listen?

By Nicole Lowenbraun

Before you start a new workout or nutrition regimen, it’s smart to take a baseline. You might measure your weight, your inches, your body mass index (BMI), and your heart rate and compare that against future measurements.

Similarly, at Duarte, when we want to measure the improvement of a speaker’s delivery, we take a baseline: we gather recorded videos of past presentations, conduct a qualitative and/or quantitative analysis, and then compare that against post-coaching presentations.

The benefit of gathering these data points is clear: in order to gage improvement, you have to know where you’re starting from.

Duarte’s new workshop, Adaptive Listening™ teaches participants how to listen with the speaker’s goals and needs in mind. Participants walk away with a better understanding of how to listen in a variety of workplace situations to build empathy and trust. Over time, participants can determine how much progress they’re making as Adaptive Listeners™ because they first uncover their baseline, what we call their Default Listening Style™.

What’s Your Default Listening Style™?

Just like you have a Love Language, a Myers Briggs score, or an Enneagram number, you also have a Default Listening Style—a way you prefer to listen. While you may not use your Default Listening Style in every listening interaction, you do tend to gravitate toward it. Though, you’ve probably never thought about it or even noticed it.

Most of us are unaware of the way we listen and unaware of the way we come across when we listen. In order to improve how we listen at work, we need to know our starting point. If you’re unsure of your Default Listening Style, review the descriptions below and think about which one (or ones) resonate most with you.

Am I an Immerse Listener™?

If you focus hard on the content you’re hearing in an effort to absorb and remember the information, you might be an Immerse Listener. Immerse Listeners are the ones colleagues go to after a meeting to recap details they might have missed, because they know Immerse Listeners either soaked it up mentally or they wrote it all down. Immerse Listeners might not speak up much in brainstorms or team meetings. But when they do speak, they usually say something brilliant, because they’ve taken longer than the others to really process their ideas. Immerse Listeners often look away from their communication partner, not because they’re distracted, but because they’re deep in thought. And when everyone else is moving forward quickly, Immerse Listeners tend to restate information or ask clarifying questions to make sure they’re tracking.

Am I a Discern Listener™?

If you categorize information into positives and negatives, benefits and risks, you might be a Discern Listener. Discern Listeners are the people others go to when they need someone to pressure-test a theory or offer critical and candid feedback. Discern Listeners often offer opinions that others don’t think of or aren’t brave enough to verbalize. They might form a thinker’s pose while listening, or even look skeptical, but that’s because they’re looking for red flags in order to avoid future problems. Discern Listeners might lead others to find alternative paths by saying things like, “Wait a minute, has anyone thought of this…?”

Am I an Advance Listener™?

If you listen with a focus on the next steps and have a desire to move processes, projects, and people forward, you might be an Advance Listener. Advance Listeners are the people others go to when they need to get things done. During a meeting or brainstorm, Advance Listeners tend to generate ideas quickly and speak up more often. They might actively concept on a whiteboard while listening because they’ve always got their eye on the finish line. Sometimes these listeners come across as impatient, but that’s because they have an ultimate desire to create momentum. After a meeting, Advance Listeners are ready to hit the ground running. They often take ownership of next steps or delegate them to others.

Am I a Support Listener™?

If you place your listening energy on the speaker’s emotions more than the content they share, you might be a Support Listener. Support Listeners are the people others turn to when they have good news to share or when they need to vent about a problem. Support Listeners are there for their coworkers in either case, whether to cheer them on, commiserate with them, or be their confidant. They might slow down processes and projects, but that’s because they’re concerned about how their team members are feeling. When others are thinking about ideas or processes, Support Listeners might have the instinct to first consider the people-impact of those ideas.

Every Listener Matters

None of these Default Listening Styles™ is better than another. In fact, we need all of these listeners in an organization. They each bring their own unique benefits. Becoming an Adaptive Listener™ requires you to understand and embody all four and know when and how to use each.

In order to become a more Adaptive Listener; however, you must first know your baseline. If you’re still unsure of what yours might be, take our Adaptive Listening Assessment™.

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Topics Covered

Communication, Power skills

Written by

Nicole Lowenbraun

Knowing how to solve communication challenges is a challenge itself

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