What Gets in the Way of Real Listening

not-hearingIn a recent article psychologist and scholar Daniel Goleman noted, “…it is in the moments of total attention that interpersonal chemistry occurs. This is when what we say has the most impact, when we can come up with the most fruitful ideas and collaborations, when negotiations and brainstorms are most productive.”

Goleman goes on to say, “And it all starts with listening, turning our attention fully to the person we are with.”

Many things contribute to poor listening including multitasking, acute distractibility and “distortion filters.”  Each Enneagram type has a unique filter that alters how information is received and heard.  As a result we may “distort” incoming information, which can lead to unproductive interactions, misunderstandings and conflict.

Goleman sees poor listening as a habit that needs breaking.  And as we all know, habits are not easy to break.  But knowing how your Enneagram type might be interfering can help.

Type 1:  Don’t hear what is actually being said because they are listening for criticism or are focusing on proving their point.

Type 2:  Don’t hear what is actually being said because they are wondering about their own likability or are focusing on how they can help.

Type 3:  Don’t hear what is actually being said because they are listening for, and diverting attention from, information that suggests failure or lack of achievement.

Type 4:  Don’t hear what is actually being said because they are listening for rejection or are focusing on being misunderstood.

Type 5:  Don’t hear what is actually being said because they are listening for demands and expectations on their time, energy and resources.

Type 6:  Don’t hear what is actually being said because they are scanning for potential unexpected consequences, pitfalls and dangers, as well as evaluating proper use of authority.

Type 7:  Don’t hear what is actually being said because they are listening for threats to their competence or have actually stopped listening out of boredom.

Type 8:  Don’t hear what is actually being said because they are watching for signs of weakness or are focusing on maintaining control.

Type 9:  Don’t hear what is actually being said because they are listening for potential conflict and are focusing on keeping everyone happy.

Increasing your awareness of these behaviors and patterns can help break the poor listening habit. When you catch yourself in the act of “distorting” your next conversation, pause. Take a deep breathe. Refocus your attention on the person you are speaking with. See how it impacts the outcome.

Comments
  • Cindy Schultz

    Interesting descriptions for each type. Definitely a good habit to break!