Listening is a skill that most of us take for granted. In school we’re taught how to read and write, but not how to listen. It’s as if all that’s required is a set of ears. In the real world we know that some of us excel at listening and others do not.
Here’s a quick exercise: Take a moment and think about a person you feel is an excellent listener. Now answer this question: Do you like that person? The chances that are you do, a lot. That’s how powerful listening skills are.
What do Dominant styles listen for? The bottom line. Nearly every Eagle has an invisible sign on his or forehead that says: “Cut to the chase.” Eagles are wired for clarity and action. Droning on about emotional problems or engaging in long-winded stream of consciousness monologues are very difficult for Eagles to take. In training sessions, it is common for other styles to characterize Eagles as poor listeners who interrupt with their own opinions instead of patiently hearing someone through. The reality, however, is that Eagles are not poor listeners at all. They are problem-solving listeners. Skillful listening to a Eagle means quickly sizing up a situation and offering solutions even if that results in cutting the speaker off in mid-sentence. Since solutions solve problems, the Eagle believes that he or she is being responsive to the speaker, not impolite.
Parrots are what we like to call responsive listeners. In other words, they listen to respond. So, what would an Interactive style rather be doing other than listening? Talking! Here’s an example: Early one morning an I asks you about what you did over the weekend. “Play basketball,” you respond. You will find that Parrots come equipped with a personalized search engine. When you say “basketball,” the I inputs ‘basketball’ and hits ‘search.’ A series of previous basketball experiences suddenly flood the Parrots brain. Instantly, the I has amazing basketball stories that he can’t wait to tell you about, as soon as you take a breath.
If there’s one skill that Supportive styles are widely recognized for, it’s listening. Their calm, reassuring nature enables Doves to listen with patience and empathy. Doves are the ideal recipient for those looking to share troubles, concerns, and challenges. Their listening skills serve as a gateway to building loyal, trusting relationships and enables Doves to serve as peace makers and consensus-finders in group settings. However, because Doves are wired to build harmony in relationships, they are often reluctant to offer their own opinions for risk of upsetting the status quo. This can create a mis-perception that the Dove agrees with you when, in fact, they may not.
Conscientious styles tend to be effective listeners when the subject revolves around facts and logic. Owls are listening and analyzing simultaneously, comparing what you are saying to what they believe to be true.
If there’s a match, you’re good. If not, then you are likely to receive lots of questions in return. As curious listeners, Owls connect best with others through examining the content of the conversation itself to ensure quality. However, conversations that are emotionally charged, either in a highly negative or positive way, are often difficult for Owls. Their analytical nature can come across as aloof and removed from the central issue animating the conversation.
Each DISC style has listening strengths and challenges. Consciously choosing to adapt your style to the person you are with is a powerful way to build healthy and lasting relationships.