The truth about good listening skills

Powerful people do not have good listening skills. They hate to listen. They succeed by getting good at faking it. Here’s how I know. There are sixteen Myers Briggs personality types. Only 4% of people are ENTJs, but almost all Fortune 500 CEOs are ENTJs. Each type has an Achilles’ heel. The ESFP can’t stand being alone. The INTP can’t get their head out of the clouds. The ENTJ can’t listen.

Which means that listening skills must not be essential for major success in the corporate world. So maybe instead of building your listening skills, you should buy the book How to Talk so People Listen. If you’re an extrovert, you think while you’re talking. And it’s impossible to listen to someone if you are thinking of the next thing you want to say.

As an ENTJ I get bored with the idea of becoming a better listener. Why would I do that when interrupting people is so much faster? And anyway, there is great advice on how to deal with the people who won’t listen. Forbes magazine says that if you want people to listen to you, you should cut to the chase. That’s great advice. If you could just get your idea out faster, I would listen to it.

Ask Men has some advice on how to practice listening. We talk about practice a lot in my house because learning an instrument is about practicing an instrument. You play like you practice. Even baseball stars like A-Rod. It doesn’t matter if you’re gifted if you don’t have good practice skills because you won’t be able to leverage your gifts.

This seems true enough that I am sure I can’t handle this level of conscious practice for good listening. So instead I’m going to have to become the maven of the world of bad listeners.

It is no coincidence that I married someone who is an ISTP, which is the personality type that speaks the fewest words each day. At first I found that frustrating, because how could I know if he is being persuaded by all my great ideas if he is always silent while I’m talking? I realized, though, that he is great at figuring out what’s going on by way of silence.

I have tried silence, by the way. I’ve started gardening. At first it was just some garden beds around the house. Then it was lots of garden beds. With a bulldozer.

Then, when it got cold, I planted some bulbs, and then I planted about 500 bulbs a day. For months.

I ordered bulbs online, in wholesale quantities, every other day so I always had some to plant. And when I was shopping locally, buying 500 more bulbs because I was scared I’d run out,  someone said to me, “Wow. You’ll have an amazing garden next year.” 

I smiled and thought: If she only knew…

As it got cold, in the snow, the dirt was still soft. You can plant until the dirt freezes. Global warming is on my side. As the days got shorter  I planted bulbs in the dark until the night I was tearing apart grass to make my bed wider and I accidentally tore apart the carcas of a dead rabbit.

I threw out my clothes and kept planting, but only in daylight after that. I started to worry that my artistry was gone. After all, it’s hard to not dig up bulbs when you are planting 15,000 bulbs. Which is about how many I have planted. In layers: early spring, mid spring, late spring.

I told the Farmer I planted too many bulbs and people will think I have no talent for garden design. I told him that if it looks stupid and unplanned then I will tell people it’s a “pick-your-own bouquet” farm and I’ll let the kids run it as a business in the spring.

The Farmer said, “This is not a garden; this is a monument to maintaining sanity.”

I was so surprised by his insight, but he’s right. We never talked about it, I never even told him what I was doing day to day. But he sees that I’m planting bulbs for some other reason than the spring fireworks. It’s beyond that. Something else is driving me.

We didn’t need to talk. Which I guess is good becuase he doesn’t really talk.

I did a webinar last week where I taught people how to write about themeselves, and then the last night the Farmer fielded live questions from the chat room about what it’s like to have someone write about you on a blog.

I was nervous about the night he did the webinar with me. I was completely in control the other nights. It’s my sweet spot, because we are sort of having a conversation becuase the chat room is always full of people saying stuff that I respond to. But also, people can’t really talk to me because I really am lecturing, and I really just like to hear myself talk. Because it’s how I think. And we all need thinking time, right?

So I worried that if the Farmer is taking the questons, then how will I control the conversation? My first line of attack was quizzing him.

“What would you say,” I asked him, “if someone said, doesn’t it bother you that you are the Farmer instead of a real name? That’s so disrepectful.” I actually get a reprimanding email once a month saying that. Which I do not listen to, of course, because I’m a bad listener.

So he said, “It’s fine that she calls me the Farmer but I can’t believe it took her three years to use a capital F. The Ex got a capital right away.”

That was a good answer. I relaxed. Until the night it was scheduled.

But you know what happened? I listened. He was so sweet and earnest and even when someone asked him “What are the benefits of having someone blog about your relationship?” He said “None. There are no benefits.” But I still kept quiet and listened.

And here’s what I discovered: it’s very intimate to listen to someone. It’s intimate to calm down your head from ideas and just receive their ideas. You have to be really in tune with that person to keep your mind from going somewhere else. And it’s so intimate to wait to hear what the person says next.

People were shocked to hear me so quiet. Me too. Because I wasn’t thinking. I was listening. I was feeling what it feels like to have the Farmer reveal all our secrets. That’s usually my job. But this time I listened and it was like we were having date night. Live. I loved hearing what he’s thinking, and I don’t think he’d have bothered talking if I hadn’t shut up. That’s why intimacy requires listening. And that’s why it’s so hard.

 

Posted in Self-management
61 comments on “The truth about good listening skills
  1. Lisa Chandler says:

    Hi Penelope-
    Like you, I am an ENTJ. Through coaching training, I have become a very good listener. It is essential in coaching and it is a skill that can be learned and practiced like an instrument, as you reference. Prior to coaching training, I suspect I was a very poor listener. You call yourself a coach in some posts but if you are not listening to your clients, I suspect you are most often an advisor or a consultant to them.
    Really looking forward to seeing photos of all those bulbs in bloom–your monument to sanity.
    lisa

  2. Rebecca says:

    Just have to say that you are a beautiful writer! Your posts often make me laugh, and sometimes cry. But they are real and well done, and I sure enjoy reading them.

  3. my honest answer says:

    I guess that’s why a q & a format suits me – I’m forced to listen without interrupting, since it’s written communication. But then I can ‘talk’ for as long as I want.. Because as much as I interrupt (and I do try to stop myself) I hate being interrupted.

  4. Kat Alexander says:

    This is a brilliant post, with all the elements you taught us in your writing seminar last week. Thank you for creating writing that resonates, and for teaching us how to do the same!

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks, Kat. I have to say, it’s a lot of pressure to spend a week telling everyone how to write a good blog post and then have to crank one out myself!

      Penelope

  5. Tim Chan says:

    I enjoyed reading this.

    Listening is very difficult, but rewarding. Perhaps that’s why they train sales people to listen and shut up, b/c when they do, their potential customers tell them all their secrets.

    I wonder if part of learning to listen well starts when we listen to ourselves well. Your planting bulbs seems like a great way to develop that.

  6. celestle says:

    Penelope, I am surprised that you are an ENTJ. I would think, from all you have written, that you are an introvert and get more energy from being alone. As a person with Asperberger’s, I would also surmise that it would be easier being alone. Would you please comment on this?

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I do like to be alone. But mostly because it’s so hard for me to not offend people with my poor social skills, and it’s really hard work to keep trying. If I had better social skills I think I’d like being with other people a lot more.

      I do my best thinking out loud, so I really do need to talk to people for a part of each day. It’s why I love coaching people. It does not require social skills because we are on the phone with a specific agenda. But the people who ask for coaching are always smart and interesting and I get to think on my feet. So it’s a way to be an extrovert with Aspergers.

      Penelope

  7. Celeste says:

    I am surprised that you label yourself as an ENTJ. From most of your writing and recounting, it would appear that you would be more comfortable alone and thinking, than interacting with other people and being vocal. Could you please address this?

  8. Daniel Baskin says:

    Nothing is ever on a small scale with you, P. 15k bulbs. Wow. You can’t just have a small garden. “Bring in the digging truck!” Freaking ENTJ…

    For me, listening is not difficult (INTP). It’s so easy to hear everything being said that I get angry when forced to listen to someone I think is vapid and unintelligent.

    I can’t just start dominating the conversation like an extrovert can. I have to leave. Or choose to talk, but that’s equally stressful.

    ISTP’s are some of my favorite people. (Of course, they are not all the same, though). My mom-in-law is an ISTP. She’s probably the closest person I relate to on an analytic level (yes, even more than my wife! the INFJ).

    • Pattie b says:

      I love this! I am an ISTP. My oldest and dearest friend is an INTP and she is the one person I best relate to in an analytic way.

      I know I am a great listener. It’s one of the best ways for me to receive information. And an ISTP is all about taking in information. I can listen for hours to anything that’s interesting (yea podcasts!). I just usually have no need to share my stats or thinking results with anyone else, thus the type that says the fewest words. People often don’t get where my head is anyway, so why bother?

  9. Nicki says:

    Hi there Penelope! I’m an ENFJ, medical student-turned-successful-first-startup-founder, and an avid Penelope Trunk AND Myers-Briggs fan. I’d love to see a post with some of your insights on all of the Myers-Briggs types in the workplace and beyond :-)

    • 40something says:

      Sometimes I wish you were 60 and could give my 40 something self advice. I know the 20 somethings reading you gain a lot of insight.

      • Nicole says:

        As one of those twenty somethings, you are right. The time I spend reading both the career and homeschooling blog is always impactful.

  10. Evy MacPhee says:

    I am so very proud of you, Penelope!

    You are beginning to think about intimacy. Perhaps all success is not measured in money and achievement.

    Perhaps a measure of success is good, solid relationships.

    I wonder if we will find out how intimacy makes you feel.

    You are very strong to confront this.

    Good for you!

  11. Ellen says:

    So, I argued with you throughout the first half of the post (because that’s what I do, too) until I got to the part where you realize that listening does have value. It may not be necessary to become one of the top CEO’s in the world, but then like Evy MacPhee says, is that really a true measure of success. I’ve found that learning to listen has made me a better friend, more than anything else.

  12. Birch says:

    Great post, Penelope.

    I particularly like the idea of quieting the mind in order to be able to truly listen. In particular, I feel this is an important strategy when dealing with the emotional tantrums, etc., that children go through.

    Instead of listening to what they are upset about, often, we are thinking of ways to “solve” their problems. By not truly listening, though, often times what we are trying to “help” them with & what is bothering them are two different things..

  13. Kenneth Vogt says:

    Listening, like many things, is just a skill. Skills can be acquired. Once you have the skill, the next step is to develop the habit of using it. No rocket science here. We sometimes think we have to be “naturally” good at something. Rubbish! We are our own creators. So when it comes to communication, consider all the skills you could be acquiring and profiting from: http://www.veraclaritas.com/how-to-manage-the-states-of-communication/

  14. cate - yogahealer says:

    I love this post. It’s so me and my husband to a t. And I couldn’t agree more to the power of interruption. There is a place for it the new-age world can’t see for shit. It’s as important as the listening.

    The ISTP’s need to learn the art of interruption as much as ENTJ’s need to practice listening.

    cate – yogahealer

  15. Kate says:

    Wow. That was very powerful. Thank you.

  16. Laura says:

    You are highly entertaining when you talk. You proved that in the webinar. I could listen to you talk forever. I get so interested in what you’re saying that I forget what I wanted to know. It’s hard to find my way back to my own agenda or remember what question I wanted to ask next. Perhaps that is the danger of being a good listener! I love that you found an “I” to marry. Good choice.

  17. Lucy says:

    surprised by the number of typos in this one!

  18. Lucy says:

    I’m glad you discovered the benefit of listening and why it’s worthwhile, because people who don’t listen and are only interested in the sound of their own voice are insufferable.

  19. Emily says:

    I was really frustrated by this post until I came to this paragraph:

    And here’s what I discovered: it’s very intimate to listen to someone. It’s intimate to calm down your head from ideas and just receive their ideas. You have to be really in tune with that person to keep your mind from going somewhere else. And it’s so intimate to wait to hear what the person says next.

    Yes. Listening is good and important and a way to truly connect with each other. Listening could change the world.

  20. sunship says:

    I’m surprised how surprised extroverts can be to see that an introvert has a perfect grasp of some interpersonal situation. I think maybe extroverts tend to be more able to unconsciously “manipulate” interpersonal situations without understanding them and introverts tend to be more able to understand without being able to manipulate. (Without any negative connotation to the word “manipulate”.)

    I think you(and others) should take into account the differences in the way people use language and rein in your unqualified endorsements of talk therapy. I had an initial session(and final) with a therapist the other week, thinking that it might be a good time in my life to look into therapy and having heard so much about how it could be an effective avenue for personal growth. And it was totally unhelpful for me: I feel almost completely powerless to express anything with any real meaning or emotional significance in verbal language, so I would just sit silent for minutes on end trying to formulate adequate responses to relatively simple questions. And I was relieved when my therapist completely agreed with my skepticism about whether talk therapy could be helpful for someone who has the sort of relationship to language that I do. (INTP who has compounded my natural tendencies by spending college+grad school studying nonverbal subjects.) (Also: I’m aware of, and comfortable with, the fact that talk therapy would take time and emotional effort to be effective. I just don’t even think that I am in a situation where that effort is even possible, on account of the issues with language discussed above.)

    I think I will need to find the same sort of dynamic that you and the Farmer have in this regard in a relationship partner. At least at work, I’m slowly learning to “cut to the chase” and get my ideas out. But since all of the content that I’m dealing with there is analytic, I think I’m just becoming quicker and more fluid with the relationship to language I already have rather than really fundamentally changing my way of communicating. I don’t know that I’ll be able to effect this kind of fundamental change without a lot of dedicated practice that I don’t have time for right now(due to having other priorities).

    (Demonstrating my listening skills with a response only obliquely related to the post… but good post.)

  21. Tzipporah says:

    This clarifies for me why I can’t stand ENTJs, because they never shut up. And sadly, so few of them have anything worth listening to, which is why they end up running businesses, instead.

    I’m glad you have good ideas, and that you write them down – I read much more quickly than someone can talk.

  22. Satya says:

    It was very intimate watching you listening to him on the webinar. I could see the effect on your face. And I thought, they are totally making out after this!

  23. Jacko says:

    Yeah well what do you do when the person you are speaking to has nothing interesting to say?

  24. Theresa says:

    Very beautiful and wise! I’m going to keep working on being a better listener. The people in my life deserve it.

  25. Mark W. says:

    This post makes me think about people on a listening spectrum. Then I think about how people learn through listening. And finally I think how people are taught in a classroom setting. Much knowledge is passed from teachers to students in the form of lecturing. So, if you’re a good listener, the conventional classroom has a good chance of working well for you. I’m a good listener and have been told so. So I’m thinking it’s probably the reason why I didn’t understand what the problem was with learning by listening in a lecturing format for many years. I’m still a big proponent of good listening skills, but on the other hand, I think it’s important to realize not everyone has them and there are other ways to learn.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s interesting. Like extroversion and introversion are a spectrum, but you could overlay a lot of stuff on top of that. Like, people are on a spectrum for listening, and we’re on a spectrum for needing alone time as well.

      Penelope

      • Simone says:

        This comment also grabbed my attention. What a great way to think about not just listening but everything we beat ourselves up for not excelling. How relaxing to think in terms of a spectrum and finding your place on it rather than a finish line to be crossed or a goal checked off.

        This also gave me an “aha” moment with a situation pertaining to someone I’m dating. We have different places on the spectrum and layers to how we communicate. Just because someone is not communicating in the way that I’d prefer doesn’t mean its wrong. What I see as aloof, could be a continuum on the spectrum different from mine. (As in the Farmer’s style which would have driven my INFP-self right off that farm onto the nearest commune or cult).

        Guess I’m learning the same thing you are Penelope. Which reminds me of the quote we see things as we are and not as they are.

        Understanding this might help me judge a little less, forgive a little easier and remember to listen more to those who aren’t, as I am (in my communication style, personality type, shared opinions on blogs, etc)…. Thanks for another great thought provoking post!

  26. Rick Bommelje says:

    An excellent post. Listening is the cornerstone of all human behavior. I invite you to read the newly released business novel, LISTENING PAYS.

  27. Irving Podolsky says:

    This was a sweet and sentimental post, Penelope. I loved the ending.

    Irv

  28. Maria Killam says:

    Hey, this is exactly why I’m not a good listener, because I’m busy thinking about what I’m going to say next! I love that, suddenly I don’t feel like I’m a horrible, terrible person.
    I love your posts Penelope.
    x
    Maria

  29. Paul Hassing says:

    Hi, P. On the rare occasions you listen to me, I get enough fuel for 2-3 days power blogging. So, if you want to do it, but just don’t feel the vibe, do it for US, instead of YOU. And The Farmer bloody well rocks. I’d give up MY listening rights, if you listened to HIM. With fond regards, P. :)

  30. Shelly says:

    This has been very inspiring, and refreshing. By reading all of the comments I can tell that I’m not alone.

  31. tj says:

    Hi P

    As a dedicated listener, I smiled when I reached the end of your post – you’ve discovered one of our secrets – intimacy – intimacy of thought, intimacy of expression, intimacy of accord.

    There are others, you know, other secrets you’ll find when you decide that listening to others is a worthy endeavor – there’s strength, the death of oneupsmanship, the beginning of “we” and slow death of “I”, etc – but these secrets are secret secrets and will be there with their friends when you’re ready to hear them.

  32. AP says:

    So what’s the ISTJ Achilles heel?

  33. http://Angelesstyle.blogspot.com says:

    I am very interested in MBTI. When I emailed you once asking if INFP’s are on twitter I felt like you did not hear me and responded with an answer an Extrovert would give. It took me much counselling to find that with my INFP great listening skills I still did not understand people who were different than I and so freeing to discover I will NEVER UNDERSTAND how other types (especially ESTJ AND ENTJ’s) function in this world but I am able to appreciate the DIFFERENCES much much better now. My most helpful boyfriend of all time was an ESTJ. We went to many counselling sessions together and were together for about 4 years and looking back on that relationship I can see how immensely helpful he was in getting me started in a new career and the ability to get me out of my prefered way of doing things when it was not working for me. I think we attract people and activities that we need in our life to evolve and some of us have the ability to use it. I always look forward to your posts because your choices are so opposite of mine it is fascinating to hear and learn from because it is your personal experience you are sharing not just things you have read about.

  34. TD says:

    So how does an ENTJ become a good teacher or good coach without being able to listen before formulating their ideas or answers? I agree with this post completely. I have lived with multiple ENTJs in my family, and despite appreciating how easily they can get work done that takes me forever to get started on, I have always felt like I am hitting against a wall when I talk to them. They don’t even mean to hurt or not care, they just can’t care to listen quite often! I think of ENTJs as people who can teach a lot to others just by doing, but they don’t make good teachers when the student requires that the teacher first pay attention to what he/she is saying. Which leaves me wondering how you make such a great coach? Is listening not an essential quality in coaching? Perhaps you gather enough about what someone needs without listening to them speak.

  35. penfan says:

    met an entj at a dinner party last night. he boasted he was an entj and never shut up and was a boor. i avoided him, no matter how “brilliant” he was/is. he’s an ass, and if that is an entj i want no part of them. i quoted this blog (4 percent are entj) and he said Penelope was wrong its 1 percent so get it straight penelope! yes he has all the credentials, degrees, runs his own biz, yadda yadda yadda…but no one likes him. we invite him because he invites himself and some in our group he employs. not me though. i play music and would do a gig for him if he paid me but no hanging-out. and if you don’t get that, then you just don’t get it.

  36. penfan says:

    “And it’s impossible to listen to someone if you are thinking of the next thing you want to say.”

    umm…no its not. i do it all the time. it’s part of the social dance.

    she sez do u like death cab for cutie?
    i say no i dig classic rock.
    she sez so i heard this great band called lost airmen.
    i say my bud plays drums for them.

    see? not hard.

  37. Eva Steortz says:

    Love this post. I have to work hardest at listening. When someone talks to me I now literally shut my computer, put away my phone and look them in the eyes. Listening is respectful just like remembering someone’s name. I am working on both. And, I too have found that people are very interesting and fascinating. Especially my 14 year old son. No matter what I am doing, if he wants to talk I focus and listen as I know those opportunities will get fewer and farther between. Listening is connecting. Something to be cherished.

  38. Leah McClellan says:

    Hi Penelope,

    This is so great. Don’t know how I didn’t see it until today. I totally and truly laughed out loud with this: “If you’re an extrovert, you think while you’re talking.”

    Yep. I’m an ENTJ (8 years ago or so, though, and I actually think I’m more introverted), and that describes me perfectly: I think out loud or just think in general while talking. This too: “And it’s impossible to listen to someone if you are thinking of the next thing you want to say.”

    Yes. Thing is, I’ve made huge efforts (and continue) to be a better listener, partly because I saw myself in some other people and was completely annoyed with them because I could see their minds going and going and mouths even starting to move while I was talking–I wanted to be heard, you know? Listened to. And they weren’t listening–they were planning what they were going to say before I was done. So we end up with two monologues that bear no relation to the other. Certainly not functional much less intimate (love what you wrote about that).

    But even though I’ve improved my listening skills (by working on not planning what I’m saying next or formulating a response or whatever–or not always saying it if I do-plus asking questions), I still talk a lot. I like to think of it as unbridled enthusiasm, at least on a good day–but I do listen while I’m talking. Closely. And I watch every little thing, which I don’t think people realize.

    A best friend and I back in our teens used to talk to each other–and respond–at the same time. We figured it saved time. We both listened to each other and then responded at the same time. It worked for us, but not so much with other people. I’ve never known anyone else who can do that.

    On interrupting–how can you let someone go on if they’ve got it all wrong? Wouldn’t it be wrong on my part to let them go on talking about something that’s based on a a misunderstanding or assumption they made? I mean, isn’t that cruel? Or pointless? I suppose it could wait…10 minutes of someone going on about something based on something not true? Oy.

    Thanks for all this–I get the gardening thing too but I’ll rein in the enthusiasm now :)

  39. David says:

    I’m an ENTJ (according to the Mayers Briggs test) but I feel like I’m quite a good listener, though a bit impatient as well as I prefer to get to the point (though small talk has it’s value of course). I’m more insensitive than anything and being insensitive is great for leading projects as you’re not bothered by criticism, but for personal relationships it’s something you have to consciously work at.

  40. Bill Huey says:

    Hello Penelope,
    In your Blog post on Listening you make some statements that I would like to challenge. Although you preface your comments with “Each type has an Achilles’ heel”. As a MBTI practitioner I caution against statements that certain personality types CAN”T do certain things: The ESFP can’t stand being alone. The INTP can’t get their head out of the clouds. The ENTJ can’t listen. I caution against labeling that certain types can’t do something that another type can do. What I do suggest is that these behaviors may not be their first preference, their strengths, nor their natural tendency, in their communication style based on their personality type, but it does not mean that they can’t do these. For example I might say that an ENTJ has a preference for speaking over listening, or that an INTJ has a preference for thinking through an idea before commenting.

    All in all thanks for your courage to put out what you do, I’m inspired.

    Bill Huey

  41. karelys says:

    Interesting.

    When I was reading I was thinking “I know someone is going to comment how she’s a self centered xyz” because people are like that.

    I didn’t expect the ending.

    And it makes me realize that people like sweet people. We like them when they are soft instead of coarse.

    So many people call you selfish, self centered, etc. and it makes me laugh because it’s as if they take things out of context. But it’s so self centered to be bothered by someone’s brazenness. It’s so selfish to want them to be according to your very own idea of what is the right way to be.

    Since I’ve been reading this blog I’ve learned to look at people without judging according to my preference of how people should be. And I think I have learned and enjoyed life more because of it. I avoid the people that bother me but I don’t assign a moral value to their style.

    Thanks for sharing this. I think that my marriage is better off now since I know that silence is also a way to communicate. And that there’s a reason for pilling 15000 bulbs. And that it’s best to not interrupt the person (at least) but encourage them to work through whatever is happening (at best). I think I’ll be getting out of my husband’s way more often now :)

  42. Marian Thier says:

    Where did you get your validated statistics? It would be great to have these data to share, but I’m always leery of attribution without a source. Thanks for your knowledge.

  43. Sean Crawford says:

    One day I was doing a little seminar in my class in university when someone burst out, “You’re an oral learner! My LD (learning disabled) kids talk like you!” and my boss noted I was an oral learner too. So yes, I too think by talking, AND I am a good listener too.

    I guess, decades ago, I learned how to listen by applying Cosmo editor Helen Gurly Brown’s advice on dating to everyday life: If you are on a date then by golly everything your date says is fascinating and you listen with your whole self.

  44. Annie Kip says:

    Penelope, I love how you own the way you are naturally and then allow room for more information, which expands the way you are, and then come back to being the way you are, but more and better.

  45. Aaron Black says:

    Penelope,

    I’m an INFP, I have no problem listening to people talk about substantive things but can’t lock into surface level conversations. I tend to try and steer the conversation toward something deeper, but I find that it exhausts some people.

    On another topic I’m putting together my dissertation research proposal is on calling, and what I’ve found in reviewing the research leads me to believe that managers, leaders, recruiters, and entire companies do a poor job of “listening” to the passion and purpose of their employee’s and potential hires.

    You said “It’s intimate to calm down your head from ideas and just receive their ideas. You have to be really in tune with that person to keep your mind from going somewhere else. And it’s so intimate to wait to hear what the person says next.”

    As managers and leaders we’re so stuck on the strategic plan, the bottom line, the list of tasks for the day that we’re often terrible listeners. It’s too bad because if we’d listen there is something powerful there to learn. I’d like to think that “there is no more powerful workforce than one which is able to do what they were born to do for a cause they were born to fight for.”

  46. Andrew Miller says:

    I really enjoyed this blog post and the journey you take in it to reach your inspiring recognition at the end. And the comments are fascinating too.

    One thing: I don’t believe all those ENTJs don’t listen. I’m also deeply sceptical about the much-repeated but never properly referenced statistic about Fortune 500 CEOs. Given that some Fortune 500 companies fail or underperform each year, and given the time-lag for a CEO to have significant impact on the bottom line, perhaps it’s worth delving into the relationship between listening and corporate ‘success’ in just a little more depth. (But then, I’m just an INTP, and I like to think far too carefully about these things!)

    And in case it’s of interest, I also wrote about listening recently, in the context of leading organisations – http://insidework.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/communication-skill-1-listening.html

  47. Rebecca@MidcenturyModernRemodel says:

    Just caught this post. Good points on listening. Tough skill for sure. I had someone I worked with get super mad at me for interrupting all the time. I wasn’t aware I was doing that. I was so used to all my extroverted friends and other colleagues stepping over each other excitedly when we talk. So this guy, I surmised, was an egotistical a-hole who needs me to sit at his feet and listen while he lectures. That may not be true, but that is what I thought at the time.

  48. Cubicle Advisor says:

    Learning through listening, a novel concept indeed!

    C.A.
    CubicleAdvisorBlog.blogspot.com

  49. Christopher Kober (@chkober) says:

    The skill of listening is closely related to that of “collecting feedback”. If you are a good leader, you will be collecting feedback regularly from everyone around you in order to get better and in order to show others that you care about how well you perform -> for others. I recently wrote post about this quoting: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” (Ken Blanchard). Good listening skills are absolutely key in my opinion. I love this post. Thanks for sharing Penelope!

  50. quantrim says:

    Great text :),thank you.

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