7 Types of Listeners – Part 2

by  Piera Palazzolo  |  Leadership Development

The anticipation has been building for the second half of our “Seven Types of Listeners” post.  (Check out Part 1 here.) We discussed why listening is crucial to team development, as well as maintaining other relationships in your life. Did you identify with a listening personality?

As a refresher, from Part 1, the first 3 types of listeners are:

  1. The “Preoccupieds”
  2. The “Out-to-lunchers”
  3. The “Interrupters”

The Remaining 4 types of listeners

The “Whatevers”

These people remain aloof and show little emotion when listening.  They do not seem to care about anything you have to say.


If you are a “Whatever,” concentrate on the full message, not just the verbal message. Make a point to listen with your eyes, ears, and heart. Pay attention to body language and try to understand why this person wants to talk to you about this issue.

If you are speaking to a “Whatever,” dramatize your ideas and ask your listener questions to maintain their involvement.

The “Combatives”

These people are armed and ready for war.  They enjoy disagreeing and blaming others.


If you are a “Combative,” make an effort to put yourself in the speaker’s shoes and understand, accept and find merit in another’s point of view.

If you are speaking to a “Combative,” when he or she disagrees or points the blame, look forward instead of back. Talk about how you might agree to disagree or about what can be done differently next time.

 6.     The “Analysts”

These people are constantly in the role of counselor or therapist, and they are ready to provide you with unsolicited answers.  They think they are great listeners and love to help.  They are constantly in an analyze-what-you-are-saying-and-fix-it mode.


If you are an “Analyst,” relax and understand that not everyone is looking for an answer, solution or advice.  Some people just like bouncing ideas off other people because it helps them see the answers more clearly themselves.

If you are speaking to an “Analyst,” you might begin by saying, “I just need to run something by you. I’m not looking for any advice.”

 7.     The “Engagers”

These are the consciously aware listeners. They listen with their eyes, ears and hearts and try to put themselves in the speaker’s shoes. This is listening at the highest level. Their listening skills encourage you to continue talking and give you the opportunity to discover your own solutions and let your ideas unfold.


If you are an “Engager,” keep it up.  People truly appreciate this about you and will likely try to follow your example.

If you are speaking to an “Engager,” take the time to acknowledge their attentiveness. Thank them for their interest in you and your topic.

Take Action

Give it a shot: Suggest some of these tips during your next team development meeting (without singling anyone out as a bad listener, of course.) Chances are good that when your team improves its listening skills, it will also increase the quality of engagement and respect, driving toward more unity and success.

Are there any other good or bad listening traits you can think of? Is there an improvement your manager or mother-in-law could make? Join the conversation and let us know!

Photo credit www.visioncritical.com

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What People Are Saying

Peter Borner  |  03 Feb 2012  |  Reply


Interesting line of thought. I think there is a huge difference between listening and hearing. Frankly, I don’t really care about someone’s listening style. I am much more interested in making sure they have heard what I have to say. As a leader, I always try to show that I have heard either through simple paraphrasing or by ensuring my actions match my words. I have found that setting this type of example is contagious and usually results in the team around me reflecting the same behaviour back. I then know that they have heard rather than just listened.


Andrea Gordon  |  03 Feb 2012  |  Reply


Great point: by nature the best way to get this message across is through leading by example. Showing others that we heard and understood them creates a standard for the communication within the team. Of course every now and then you still run into people who are oblivious to the fact that they are not listening, but instead diverting everything you say to something relevant to their life. (This individual is likely an “interrupter” too.) Thanks for reading!

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