In my corporate sales training programs – whether for sales training, presentation skills, customer service, even ethical leadership – if there is any half hour or hour that will allow it, listening skills gets on the agenda. Today more than ever, when prospects and customers want to be listened to, introverts get a thumbs up.
In the 1957 publication, Listening is a 10 Part Skill, Dr. Ralph Nichols research reported on 200 listeners skills. Even now, introverts have a decided advantage on many of Nichols 10 skills:
1. Find an area of interest – Introverts want to do this because it’s important to us to have meaningful conversations.
2. Judge the content not the delivery – Since introverts like to go deep into conversations, we tend to focus more on content.
3. Avoid arousal either for or against – While we may be opinionated, often appearing arrogant, we realize the importance to fully understand something.
4. Listen for ideas, not just facts – Introverts tend to listen for both because we want to find meaning; that comes from both.
5. Have adaptable note-taking – We’re adept at noting key ideas, or prompt words, or details; how much more adaptable is there?
6. Avoid faking attention – Introverts can fake attention only to a degree of losing energy. Then we can go back to #1.
7. Resist distractions – Most introverts can focus on a task for a long time. In some instances I’ve been so focused, distractions can go unnoticed. My dog does not like this at all.
8. Meet the challenge of difficult material – Introverts love the challenge of more difficult information. Go deeper, wider and broader.
9. Avoid emotional eruption – In general, we have a consistent and stable way of feeling. But if #3 is pressing on us, we just might surprise the more emotional extrovert with an outburst.
10. Leverage thought speed vs speaking slowness – Studies prove that the introverts brain takes a longer pathway in thinking. It is easy for us to slow our thinking speed down if we need to slow it down at all!
Now here’s how to identify your listening barriers with Nichols list: if you can rate most of these almost always or usually, then the better listener you are. For the ones you rate, seldom or never, now you have found a listening barrier and a place to begin to improve your habits.
What do you think? Am I inflating our introvert egos too much? Have I not given enough credit to extroverts?
I’m – listening.