Tips for Better Listening based on 7 Types of Listeners

Exceptional listening skills can be the difference between a good team and a great team. Genuine listening builds trust, credibility and respect. When you fully listen instead of trying to compose a reply right away, the result is a relevant and on-target response. What you say when you do respond is proof of how well you listen. And of course you can’t expect others to listen to you if you’re not willing to hear them out too.

We’ve identified 7 types of listeners.  We’ll discuss the first 3 here and come back in a few days with the final four.   Consider the list your “Listener Astrology”.  See if you can find your style and the style of your team in this list.  With each type, we’ve included some tips from Dale Carnegie to work toward building better listening skills.

The “Preoccupieds”

Pre-occupied listeners come across as rushed and constantly looking around or doing something else.  Also known as multitaskers, they cannot sit still and listen.


If you are a “Preoccupied” listener, make a point to set aside what you are doing when someone is speaking to you.

If you are speaking to a “Preoccupied” listener, you might ask, “Is this a good time?” or say, “I need your undivided attention for just a moment.” Begin with a statement that will get their attention, be brief, and get to the bottom line quickly because their attention span is short.

The “Out-to-Lunchers”

These people are physically there for you, but mentally not engaged. You can tell this by the blank look on their faces. They tend to daydream or think about something else.


If you are an “Out-to-Luncher”, act like a good listener. Be alert, maintain eye contact, lean forward and show interest by asking questions.

If you are speaking to an “Out-to-Luncher,” check in with them every now and again and ask if they understood what you were saying. As with the “Preoccupieds,” begin with a statement that will catch their attention and be concise and to the point, because their attention span is also short.

The “Interrupters”

These people are ready to chime in at any given time. They are perched and ready for a break to complete your sentence for you. They are not listening to you because they are focused on trying to guess what you will say and what they want to say.


If you are an “Interrupter,” make a point to apologize every time you catch yourself interrupting. This will make you more conscious of it.

If you are speaking to an “Interrupter,” when they chime in, stop immediately and let them talk, or they will never listen to you.  When they are done, you might say, “As I was saying before…” to bring their interruption to their attention.

The Other Four

In my next post, we’ll share the other 4 types of listeners and review some of the best and worst tendencies and practices.

How do you deal with these three?  Do you have any advice for someone who regularly deals with an Out-to-Luncher?  What about someone who’s boss is an “Interupter”?  What advice would you share?

Photo CC by B Rosen via Flickr

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