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THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

Oct 18, 2017

Six Nightmare Listeners - Are One Of Them?


We are often good talkers, but poor listeners. We have many things we want to say, share, expound and elaborate on. For this we need someone to be talking it all in. We like it when people do that for us. It soothes our ego, heightens our sense of self-worth and importance. We are sometimes not so generous ourselves though when listening to others. Here are six nightmare listeners you might run into. By the way, do any of these stereotypes sound a bit too familiar to you?


The “preoccupieds” are those breathless types, racing around, multi-tasking on steroids, permanently distracted. They don’t make much eye contact because their eyes are constantly scanning for things other than you in front of them. When we meet this reaction we need to grab their brain. We can say, “Is this a good time to talk?” or “I need your undivided attention for just a moment”. Once we do get their attention, we have to get to the point, because their attention span is fleeting.


The “out-to-lunchers” have the lights on (their eyes are open) but no one is at home. They are thinking about everything else but what you are saying to them. It is a good practice to check in with them to make sure they have absorbed the key points you are sharing. You can ask them a very pointed question about one element to determine if they actually heard you. Closed questions are good because an answer has to be yes or no, they can’t fudge it or fake it easily.


The “interrupters” are ending your sentences for you, jumping all over you while you are speaking, they are fixated with their contribution and not much interested in yours. You cannot stop them so don’t resist. Let them blurt out whatever it is they cannot contain and then interject, “As I was saying…” And pick up where you were, as if they had not spoken at all.


The “whatevers” are giving off that jaded, bored impression that what you are saying is of little interest or consequence. To grab their attention you have to lift your energy and spice up the content, make it more dramatic. Also, ask them specific questions that will draw them into the topic. Use open questions where they have to use actual sentences rather than monosyllabic responses.


The “combatives” are people with a strong sense of their rights and they are very interested in demanding they be heard and defending those rights. They are quick to call out perceived affronts to their dignity and will readily argue the point. Look for points of agreement and concentrate talking about those or ask to agree to disagree.


The “analysts” are logical thinking, very detailed orientated and are always in fix-it mode. They love handing out advice regardless of whether it was requested or not. You can go for idea generation from them by saying “I just need to bring you up to speed, so you know what is happening. I’m not looking for advice”


By contrast what would a good listener look like? The “engagers” are empathetic listeners who really concentrate on what you are saying. They employ eyes, ears, hearts and minds to absorb your messages. They understand that they already know what they know and can learn a lot more from finding out what you know as well. They let you talk. They make you feel good, because they are obviously following along with you and taking an interest.


When they are your boss, they let you talk and give you the opportunity to self discover solutions and ideas. “We own the world we help to create” and bosses who listen and give their people the opportunity to speak, to suggest, to innovate are going to have a highly engaged team. That is the team that is going to win against the vast majority of teams who just show up to get paid. So the ROI (Return On Investment) from listening can be huge. Are you listening?


Engaged employees are self-motivated. The self-motivated are inspired. Inspired staff grow your business but are you inspiring them? We teach leaders and organisations how to inspire their people. Want to know how we do that? Contact me at


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About The Author

Dr. Greg Story: President, Dale Carnegie Training Japan

In the course of his career Dr. Greg Story has moved from the academic world, to consulting, investments, trade representation, international diplomacy, retail banking and people development. Growing up in Brisbane, Australia he never imagined he would have a Ph.D. in Japanese decision-making and become a 30 year veteran of Japan.


A committed lifelong learner, through his published articles in the American, British and European Chamber journals, his videos and podcasts “THE Leadership Japan Series”, "THE Sales Japan series", THE Presentations Japan Series", he is a thought leader in the four critical areas for business people: leadership, communication, sales and presentations. Dr. Story is a popular keynote speaker, executive coach and trainer.


Since 1971, he has been a disciple of traditional Shitoryu Karate and is currently a 6th Dan. Bunbu Ryodo (文武両道-both pen & sword) is his mantra and he applies martial art philosophies and strategies to business.