Introverts Tighten or Open Up Your Listening Like a Hard Working Wrench

In business and our personal lives, as we might use a wrench to tighten or loosen some object, listening can either strengthen or open up communications for any situation.

Chapter 4, Communication Toolkit for Introverts is titled, Your Hard Working Wrench: Tighten or Open Up Your Listening.

NOTE: this blog post uses a variation of the chapter title, Introverts Tighten or Open Up Your Listening Like a Hard Working Wrench, although it is original new content, just for my blog. The book content is unique.


Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography /

How do we get to be good listeners?

The same way the often-told joke tells us how to get to Carnegie Hall.


The joke is, one day two violinists who played at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, New York, were leaving from the backstage entrance. Two tourists approached them, and seeing the violin case they asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” One of the violinists answered, “Practice.”


It’s often been said that introverts are better listeners. There is no found research pointing to this being the situation. What is true, and research in sales backs it up, is introverts, by their introspective nature, tend to listen more. It’s what we do with that “more” that can make us a better listener.

Although in business communication circles, listening is regularly at the top of the list as a top skill that employers desire in employees. But it’s not something that comes naturally.


Image courtesy of stockimages /

Image courtesy of stockimages /

What gets in the way of our listening

In the book chapter there is a personal assessment to discover the top ten areas of listening. You’ll find out what is strong and needs improvement in your use of this skill.

Often when I facilitate a workshop in sales or customer service, there is a section about listening. People find it fun because there are just five questions to answer, and if it looks like we have time, there is a bonus question for people to earn extra points.

Reading even one question likely will not have the same affect, but allows a point to be made.

Just a few people answer this quiz question correctly. Here it is for you: Just for a moment, pretend you are the driver of a school bus. At the first stop eight children get on. At the next stop, three children get on and two get off. At the next stop, five children get on. And, and the next stop 2 children get on and three children get off. How old is the bus driver?

Ok smarty! If you said what your age was, you “heard” it correctly.

This question points out to several issues that affect our listening, if indeed you got it wrong. Regardless of a right or wrong answer, we often listen for details when in fact, they were not the relevant point. Sometimes we listen assumptively, “Oh I have this answer!” Other times when we listen we don’t listen right from the beginning but instead pick up somewhere in the middle.

There are various pitfalls to listening, and of course, as many ways out of the quagmire of results poor listening gets us into, when we practice better listening habits.

How to power up listening

In my opinion, introverts are in a quite natural position to take on listening improvement more comfortably. With enjoying being in our head, and not so quick to speak in conversation, we can turn this more time listening into being a better listener.

One way we can use this to our advantage, in particular once we know which one of the ten habits of listening might need some tuning up, is to listen to our self first.

Let’s say you are in a meeting and the person speaking at the time reminds you of someone in your life you have a poor relationship with. You don’t really care for this person you know. You start to tune out the current speaker because of this.

Tune quickly into yourself. Ask, “How can I tune in to this speaker better?” Because you now have distracted the distraction, you can get back to listening.

The key in powering up our listening is that anyone, the more introverted or the more extroverted, can listen better once they know what is getting in their way. Until then, we just go along with the same kind of misunderstandings and frustrations.

Use listening to get your voice heard

As we get better at listening, we get better with our relationships. We are better able to focus on conversations and improve our understanding of what someone is saying. Any problem that might be in the way of an issue gets cleared up more quickly.

One of the biggest benefits of being a better listener is that our voice gets heard. Because we get to be known as someone who listens, we build people’s trust in us and at the same time, they feel better about themselves.

In listening more, we listen better and we build confidence in ourselves.

Now what introvert, or extrovert for that matter, wouldn’t mind a self-confidence boost?

I really want to know, what do you think of your own listening habits?


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  1. I love that school bus riddle! Since I am an introvert I think my listening skills are MUCH better than say my husband’s. Between listening and observing I think introverts many times have a leg up on the competition.
    Cheryl Therrien recently posted…#Yoga Just Do It: App ReviewMy Profile

  2. This is nice post and I have really learned a lot from this.
    I do not feel that I am real introvert as my capacity of listening and speaking change from person to person. Like I have least capacity of listening when it comes to my husband. But for the majority I am a good listener.
    I never thought that if people believe that I am good listener than they will listen to me as well. Many around me do believe that.
    I believe that listening needs a lot of patience and it helps to understand the matter.
    Thank you
    andleeb recently posted…Our Problems… Do you have a solution?????My Profile

  3. Personally believe what makes a person a fantastic listener is if he/she is interested in other people. And that applies to both intro- and extroverts. Another aspect of being a great listener is if a person wants to learn or look upon an issue from several points of view.

    From my experience you find people who believe they know everything and are not interested in listening both among intro- and extroverts. Tactics to become a better listener can never beat true interest in what a person has to say.
    Catarina recently posted…Do you know how to succeed globally?My Profile

  4. I remember the school bus riddle from when I was young, otherwise I probably would have been paying attention to the rest of the details and missed the answer too. I find that I’m usually concerning myself with what my response is going to be and I miss what the person speaking to me is actually saying. Most of the time it’s the first thing said (as in the riddle) which is what their name is.
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Everyday Life Challenges: StoryMy Profile

  5. You got the gest of the school bus riddle Susan! Thanks.
    PatWeber recently posted…Light up Your Business Meetings the Introvert WayMy Profile

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