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.”