Archive for January, 2010

What do the Best Listeners do? What do the Worst Listeners do?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The best listeners give you their time.

The best listeners send the message that you can take as long as you want to get your thoughts out.? They are listening, and will continue to listen until you are finished.

“My girlfriend, Paula, an INFP, is the best listener I know,” says Pam, INTJ.? “She lets me go through the whole shebang without interrupting.”

“The best listener I know is an INFJ who became my mentor,” says, Dee, ENTP.? “When she listens, she doesn’t intervene a lot while you are telling your story.? She lets you get your narrative well said.”

“My INFP daughter is the best listener I know,” says Catherine, ENTJ.? “She waits to hear the whole story, even though it’s often a complicated story with lots of layers.”

“My INFJ mother is one of the best listeners in my life,” says Dan, ESTP.? “She takes the time to actually hear what I’m saying.? I solve problems best by talking about them, and I usually have to talk a lot before I get to a final thought.? It helps me when people take the time to really listen to everything that I have to say.”

“My father was an INFP and he was an excellent listener,” says Anna, ISFP.? “It’s important that someone give me a chance to speak, and he would sit patiently and let me get through the whole idea.? With some people, when I stop to take a breath, they take off on their own story.”

The worst listeners don’t give you their time.

The worst listeners send the message that if you can’t get your thoughts out quickly, you’re not going to get them out.? They interrupt or cut you off.? You can sense their impatience and lack of interest.

“One member of an executive team, an ENTP, is one of the poorest listeners I know,” says Craig, ENFP.? “He’ll just voice right over you, and doesn’t even wait for you to breathe.? I’m trying to make a point and he’s already not paying any attention to it.”

“The worst listener in my life is my ESTJ friend,” says Chip, ESFP.? “She wants closure so quickly that she’ll finish my sentence for me.? I’ll go ‘Wait a minute, that isn’t what I was saying.'”

“The worst listener in my life is my ENFJ colleague,” says John, ENTP.? “She gets impatient with how long it takes me to finish my thoughts, and she just cuts me off and takes the conversation over.”

The best listeners give you their attention.

The best listeners send the message that nothing else in the room, or in their life, is as interesting to them as what you are saying.? They look you in the eyes when you’re talking; they appear alert, attentive and focused.

“One of the best listeners in my life is my friend, an ENFJ, says Carolyn, INFP.? “When she listens, she pays attention to you.? She’s not distracted or marking time.”

“The best listener in my life is my INTJ husband, and he can be remarkably focused,” says Marthanne, ENFJ.? “When I’m telling him something that is very important to me, he’s right there; he’s not trying to do something else.”

“A friend of mine growing up was an ISTP,” says Craig, ENFP.? “He had a laser-like ability to listen.? When I was talking, he was there.? His mind wasn’t anywhere else.? He didn’t say affirming words, but his attention would affirm me.”

Two people who worked with Mary McCaulley, the co-founder of the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, said that she was the best listener they had ever known.? McCaulley, an INFP, passed away in 2003.

“When you talked to her, you felt like you were the only person on earth,” says Jamie, ISTJ.? “She wasn’t thinking about the next thing she had to do; her mind wasn’t elsewhere.”

“No matter who she was listening to, it could be a scientist who studied mangroves in the florida Everglades, she looked like that was the most important topic in the world at the time,” says Anna, ISFP.? “When she listened, she was captivated.? She couldn’t wait to hear the next sentence from you and was truly interested in what you were saying.? With as much wisdom and knowledge as she had, she always looked like she might be learning something from you.”

The worst listeners don’t give you their attention.

While you are talking, the worst listeners send the message that they’re not really interested, and it’s a struggle for them to pay attention.? You can hear that they’d much rather talk than listen.

“One of the worst listeners I know is an old girlfriend, an INFJ,” says Paul, ESFJ.? “Whenever I would tell her something about what I was doing, I’d feel like it was really boring to her, and I’d end up not liking what I was talking about.? Once she was really excited about her music, so I said, ‘Have you heard of this band?’ She said, ‘No,’ and went on talking about the music she liked.? I was completely shot down.”

“One of the worst listeners in my life is my friend, Justy, and I think he’s an INTP,” says Dan, ESTP.? “When I get done talking, he doesn’t say anything, or he’ll say, ‘Yeah, OK, that’s interesting.’? It’s a flat response as opposed to a two-way conversation.? I get the impression that he would rather talk about something else.”

“Some of the people in our organization seem to have a hard time hearing me in meetings,” says Jamie, ISTJ.? “Their new ideas are flying so fast that the points I’m trying to make come out sounding irrelevant or they’re just not computed.? I don’t have a lot of grand ideas, but I do have input that might definitely matter if it could be heard.”

“I might tell my friend that I just got back from Las Vegas, and right away, she’ll tell me that when she went, she lost all her money and had a really horrible time,” says Patty, ESTJ.? “She doesn’t seem interested at all in hearing about my trip.”

“One of the worst listeners in my life is my ENFP friend,” says Janet, INFJ.? “She just talks non-stop, and then, when she realizes that she’s talked too much, she asks me some questions about myself.? But I can hear that it’s an effort for her, and she’s not really interested in what I say.”

“The worst listener in my life is my Extraverted friend,” says Susan, ISFJ.? “She calls up and starts out by asking me how things are going in my life, but she quickly gets diverted to all her issues, and never asks me anything else about me.? She might talk for a half hour, but then, when I start to talk, she’ll suddenly have to get off the phone.”

The Gift of Listening

Monday, January 25th, 2010

(By Susan Scanlon, The TYPE Reporter, Issue Number 97)

Once, I made two lists.? On the first list, I put the names of the people in my life that I had largely positive feelings about.? On the second, I put the names of the people that I had reservations about, the relationships that I might label “problematic.”? We called each other friends, but after I’d been with them, I didn’t feel enriched.

When I looked at the difference between the two lists, one thing stood out.? The people on the first list were good listeners, and the people on the second were not.? The people on the first list always made me feel like a connection had been made between us, but the people on the second made me feel like a connection had been faked.? The people on the first list made me feel like I was accompanied on this journey of life, the people on the second made me feel like I was alone.

That’s when I realized how important it is to be a good listener to other people.? It’s not just a nice thing to do, or good manners.? Good listening has an existential importance.? It’s the only thing that helps us relieve the loneliness of the human condition.

For something that is so important, it’s amazing how little it’s talked about.? It’s rarely taught in our families, schools, workplaces or churches.? There isn’t even a cultural cliche about good listening, like:? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

Most people who have become good listeners learned it in some kind of “self-help” or psychological setting, and they were usually surprised to learn its importance.? It hasn’t spread to the overall culture.

It’s not even a skill of certain personality types.? Some people may appear to be good listeners because their type makes them less talkative or less opinionated or more sensitive to others, but they will admit that if you listen in on their thoughts, they are often not fully tuned into the other person.? To be genuinely paying attention to another person…that is a learned skill, and one that takes constant practice.? It’s not something we’re born with.

This is the first in a series.? In the following blog updates, we asked people of all the types, “Who are the best and worst listeners in your life, and why?”? From that we gleaned some good, practical dos and don’ts on listening.? In the next blog update, we’re going to look at how our type influences our listening.

You’ll probably find a lot of the people you know in these pages, including the person you thought you knew the best…yourself.? However, if you decide to begin asking yourself the question:? “Am I really listening?”? you’ll find that you didn’t really know yourself, or anyone else, before that.

Depth-Frequency Conflict Model

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Factors like cultural background and family norms can have a significant impact on the way each of us feels about conflict.? In some cultures, there is very little direct disagreement and debate during meetings, while in others people tend to “get in one another’s face.”

Some people come from a background where parents and siblings rarely engaged in raw, emotional dialogue.? Others watched their parents argue passionately, and then make up with equal passion.

Which is better on a team?? It doesn’t matter.? The only thing that really matters is this:? Are people holding back their opinions?? Members of great teams do not.

To assist in identifying your own conflict tendencies, review the Depth Frequency Conflict Model below to better understand how you react to conflict.

Rare but Substantive Conflict

Frequent but Substantive Conflict

Rare and Shallow Conflict

Frequent and Shallow Conflict

Personally, I fall with the “Rare but Substantive Conflict” area.? I don’t like to deal with conflict but I will definitely address it and even go to the mat if the issue is something that is important to me and falls within my personal priorities of relationships and life.

?Mistakes We Make When Teaching Type?

Monday, January 11th, 2010

This article is not just for professional trainers of type.

Sure, there are lots of complaints that professionals are making mistakes, that they?re making statements about the theory that aren?t true, making statements about the types that put people on the defensive, not telling people enough to answer their questions or excite them about the power of the theory, or telling them so much they get lost in all the lingo and complications of it. But this article is not just for professional trainers of type.? It?s for everyone who has more than a passing interest in type, and that includes you and me.? Why?? Because all learners of type naturally become teachers of type.

You will want to know the types of the people in your life.? They are the ones who will make the words come alive for you.? I had read that SJs were organized, practical, and persistent.? But those were just words to me until an SJ came to our business and improvements that had been talked about for years finally began to happen because he kept gently pushing and pushing them to completion.

I had read that NTs were global and critical, but those were just words to me until I had an NT edit my writing.? He suggested many, many changes, but rather than hating it, I was delighted.? Listening to him opened up my viewpoint miles wider, amd made my ideas much clearer.?

I had read that SPs were physical and playful, but those were just words to me until my SP friend and I had spent many afternoons with our children, wandering along rivers and through woods, and I?d come home filled with light and air and the joy of having a body and living in the natural world.

I had read that NFs see the best in people and want to bring that out, but those were just words to me until one afternoon when I was confiding to an NF friend that I was worried about my son?s recent behavior.? Somehow, by her questions and reminding me of things, the afternoon ended with me excited again about the great potential lying in that little boy.

The gifts of SJs, NTs, SPs, and NFs are no longer just words for me, they are sights and sounds and feelings.? I have real examples of them in my life.

A second reason to know the types of the people in your life is so you can solve some of the problems you might be having with them.? For example, I used to listen to my ISFJ sister complain about her life, and naturally, because I?m Intuitive, I?d suggest all kinds of ways that she could make ?a new life? for herself.? But my suggestions involved radical changes in her situation, things she had no stomach for, so she always ended up having to come up with a million reasons why she couldn?t follow my advice.? But ever since I?ve known her type, I?ve stopped doing that.? Now I listen to her problems, and praise her for her loyalty and ability to endure difficult situations.? Then she herself is able to think of small changes she could make to improve things.?

I never would have had the opportunity to understand type in its living context, or to have it make such improvements in my relationships if I hadn?t taken the time and trouble to find out what type my family, friends, and colleagues were.? I could not persuade all of them to go out and take workshops given by professionals, and with the majority of them, I could not guess their type without their input.? If I wanted to know their types, I had to go through all the steps of ?training? them in it myself, and doing it in an informal setting.

But I taught the people in my world about type without any preparation, guidelines, or instruction on how to teach type.? I had learned a lot about type, but nothing about how to teach it.? And I think I made a lot of mistakes. ?I wish I had learned some basic guidelines for giving introductions to type, so I could have avoided some of the errors in the trial and error period.

Then recently, I heard a speech by Jean Kummerow, an ESTJ psychologist, management consultant, MBTI trainer, and co-author of the book Lifetypes ?(1989 Warner).? In that speech I felt I had found the ?basics.?? It seems to me that if you follow Kummerow?s guidelines, you?ll give people the maximum?opportunity to find themselves in their type at their first introduction to it, get excited about the information, and put it to good use in their lives.

A Checklist For Introducing Type

Let people do a “Self-assessment” before getting their results from the MBTI

Describe the preferences in an accurate, positive and unbiased way, and remember to use qualifiers like “most” and “many.”

Give examples from the literature, your own life, and the world of the trainee.

Don’t read too much into MBTI scores.

Make your goal simple:? to teach the person the meaning of the eight preferences, and help them choose their type.

Provide follow-up reinforcement somehow, and give adequate handouts.

The TYPE Reporter/Issue No. 38

MBTI is a registered trademark of CPP, Inc.

Conflict and Type

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed one approach to understanding conflict-handling styles that has been used to research the style most used by each of the types.? Using a model developed earlier by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton (1964) for categorizing management styles, Thomas and Kilmann identified two dimensions of behavior involved in managing conflict with another party:? concern for one?s own interests and concern for the other person?s interests.? They labeled these Assertiveness and Cooperativeness, respectively.? Depending on the degree to which a person proportions his or her energy into each of these dimensions, one of the styles will be engaged.?

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The 16 personality types respond to conflict according to their preferences.? According to the Thomas-Kilmann Model, none of the styles are inherently good or bad.? Each is appropriate for some situations and each is also inappropriate or less effective for other situations.? The model describes five different approaches to conflict according to how people think about the importance of a task versus the importance of their relationship with the people they are working with ? Competing, Collaborating, Compromising, Avoiding, Accommodating.? The main point of the model is to encourage people to be purposeful in how they confront and collaborate with others, rather than relying on their natural ? and often inappropriate tendencies.

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In the Competing category, behavior is based on a high attempt to satisfy one?s own interests and a low attempt to satisfy the other party?s interests.? A person chooses to use power to win with his or her position.? This style is appropriate in situations requiring an emergency decision, where there is no other option and someone must be willing to take the tough stand, or where self-protection is essential.? The downside of this style is that it intimidates others to the point where problems may go underground and develop into actions that escalate the conflict.? The personality types we find in this category are the ENTJ and ESTJ males.?

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In the Accommodating category, behavior is based on giving up one?s own interests in order to satisfy the other party?s interests.? A choice is made to yield.? This style is appropriate when the issue is not of great importance to you and harmony is, or when the other party has all the power.? The downside is that if used excessively, neither you nor others have an opportunity to understand your real strength. We find the ENFP and ESFP personality types in this section.

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In the Avoiding category, behavior in which there is no attempt to satisfy either one?s own or the other party?s interests is found.? A choice is made to remain apart from interactive engagement on the issue.? This style is appropriate when the issue is of no importance to you or when used as a strategy to buy time for thinking or ?cooling down,? or if the other person has unyielding power over you.? The downside is that issues may persist and remain unresolved.? The types we find in this category are the INTJ, ISTJ, ISFJ and INFJ.

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In the Compromising category, behavior in which each party sacrifices some of this or her own interests in order to satisfy some of the interests of the other is found.? Each person negotiates to win some personal interests in exchange for yielding others.? This style is useful when the issue is if some importance but there is not time for a full-fledged collaborative process.? It is also a fallback process when collaboration is not going to produce a fully win/win solution.? This downside is that there may be missed opportunity for a more creative solution that would increase resources, productivity and satisfaction.? The types we find in this category are the ENTJ and ESTJ females, and the ISTP, INTP, ESTP, ENTP of both genders.

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And, finally, in the Collaborating category, behavior that seeks a way to satisfy fully both parties? interests ? a win/win solution is found.? Issues are examined that are important to both people and commitment is made to exploration of alternative resolutions that address all concerns.? The downside is that the process may involve more time than is available.? The types found in this group include the ESFJ and ENFJ.

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Source:? Wired for Conflict; Sondra S. VanSant

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