Who are the main types of bad listeners?
You might find in your work environment that some individuals are simply not very good at listening. This can create a myriad of problems and make the performance of the most mundane day to day tasks nearly impossible to accomplish.
But there are ways of helping these people improve their listening skills. But first, we need to take a look at what kind of “bad listeners” are out there.
There are essentially three types of bad listeners. They are self absorbed individuals, unfocused individuals, and rules driven individuals.
Self absorbed people will always place their own priorities above everyone else’s. They are quite often stubborn and opinionated people. They are also quite eager to get everyone else to agree with them, and thus are not the best at listening to or expressing interest in other people’s opinions. Self absorbed people are the type who seem to know everything and thus do not have the desire or the will to listen to what anyone else has to say about something.
Then there are the unfocused individuals. These people tend to be quite messy and disorganized. They are often forgetful, and hardly ever finish the projects they start on. In order to get through life, these individuals are in dire need of structure and some direction – and it must come from others. Since they cannot stay focused on anything for an extended duration, this prevents them from fully understanding what they are being told in a conversation. It also prevents them from taking action once they are told to do something.
Finally, there are the rules driven individuals. Such individuals may be able to listen, but they are overly cautious about everything. It is almost like they are listening a little too well, because they wind up focusing on the minor, small details, and are thus unable to see the big picture. This means that they are only listening to a small part of what is being said to them.
How do I help a self absorbed individual?
One method of improving the listening skills of a self absorbed person in the work place is to simply ask them to repeat what you have just said to them. This will effectively help them to both understand and clarify what has just been said.
With self absorbed individuals, you might also need to ask them not to reject an idea before they have understood and analyzed it correctly. You do not have to agree with the other person in order to listen to them effectively. Basically, self absorbed individuals are lacking in open mindedness. Once you help them overcome this barrier, they will become better listeners.
How do I help an unfocused Individual?
With unfocused listeners, it is a good idea to only give them the necessary information they need in order to perform a certain task. Do not overwhelm them with more data than they need to know. If the priorities on the project change mid way through, then give them new instructions at that point.
A lot of us like to give people the overall picture when it comes to working on a project. But unfocused individuals are not able to process all that information. Their style is more of a “one thing at a time” approach.
With unfocused individuals, you will also want to minimize the amount of outside distractions when you speak to them. If you want to make extra sure that your message has gotten through to them, then ask specific questions. In this manner, the unfocused individual will realize that you are asking for their complete attention. The message is sure to sink in once this realization is made.
How do I help those individuals who are rules driven?
It can be rather difficult to get through to those individuals driven by rules. These people might be able to hear everything you say, but they do not relate to anything that is outside their comfort zones. When they are given a project that does not relate directly to what they are accustomed to doing, then they stop listening. Or they will tell you all the reasons why they are unable to do what you have asked them, without pausing to reflect on what they will need in order to complete the project.
If you have a great understanding of the rules that the rules driven individual is familiar with, try to explain the project within the confines of those rules. If you want to challenge their comfort zone, then you should be very precise in your instructions as to how they will begin working “outside the box.” Make your expectations clear up front. Give them confidence that the project will work out if it is done in a certain way.