?I really want to know more about what people have to say.?
The attitudes we?re looking for in a listener:? open-mindedness, curiosity and tolerance, seem to come easily to many Ps.? You can see it in their faces.? They have that ?I?m interested? look in their eyes, and it?s fun to talk to someone who looks like that.? I can think of many times where I?ve watched people just open up to a P, and suddenly start talking happily about their interests.
?I like to listen because I?m collecting data,? says John, ENTP.? ?Once, a friend told me a long story, and after he finished I said:? ?That?s interesting.?? He said:? ?When most people say that, it?s dismissive, but when you say it, you?re actually finding it interesting.???
?I like to listen because I?m collecting data,? says John, ENTP.? ?Once, a friend told me a long story, and after he finished I said:? ?That?s interesting.?? He said:? ?When most people say that, it?s dismissive, but when you say it, you?re actually finding it interesting.?
?My strength as a listener is that I really want to know more about what people have to say,? says Anna, ISFP.? ?I know?it?s important to them, but I also like to learn from other people.? When I was young, it was a good way for me to be, because I had to go to parties with a whole bunch of my husband?s business associates, who would all be talking about science.? The easiest way for me to mingle would be to ask questions.? I realized that wow, this is exciting.? I could talk to people that I didn?t know, and there were all these other topics in the world that I didn?t really know about.? Also, when I took the time to listen to other people, I got a lot of information that I could really use in my life.?
Because Ps?are so good at data collection, they can gently push the speakers to consider new and sometimes surprising information.
?I can pick out what was not said, what was underrepresented,? says Caroline, INFP.? ?That?s not easy to do, because a lot of time in discussions, everyone starts following along with evidence in one direction and they totally miss that there might be an entirely different viewpoint.?
Instead of opinions or advice, which send the message that the listener was really listening to themselves, most Ps tend to naturally respond with questions, which sends the message that they are really listening and trying to understand.? Another way of sending the message that we?re listening is to repeat back what the speaker said, in our own words, to make sure we are interpreting it correctly.? One P even told us that this practice of ?active listening,? came naturally to him, and was his habit before he had ever heard it described.
?When I first heard about active listening, I thought, ?So that?s what you call it,?? says Jerry, INTP.? ?I did that naturally.? People always seem to find it easy to talk to me, because I put what they said into my own words.? For example, my wife works in a very stressful job as a nurse in an infant intensive care unit.? If I ask her how her day was, and she says, ?It was awful,? I don?t just grunt.? I really do try to understand as she describes the problems she had with a parent today.? When she?s finished, I might say, ?I know it frustrates you when you try to tell a parent that what they want isn?t good for their baby.?? It turns out not?to be a very long conversation, because when people feel understood, the need to tell their story over and over is not so great.
?I worked as a marriage counselor,? he continues,? and some part of every couple?s problem was the failure to communicate.? I taught them to put into their own words what they thought the other was saying.? I told them not to just parrot their words, or you?ll get a response like, ?Don?t do that listening stuff on me.? But if it?s in your own words, it sounds natural, and they?ll be able to tell you if you?re right or wrong.?