Image courtesy of Jon Wisbey
Image courtesy of Jon Wisbey

I hear some assert that introverts make great listeners.  I think this may be too much of a generalization; after all, not all introverts are alike.

I think that I am a good listener most of the time.  I want to get to know people better and understand their needs.  I want to get the relevant facts.  I want to continue to learn more about everything.

However, while I want to be a good listener, I also want the conversation to go both ways.  I don’t want to be perceived as a good listener just because the other person is doing all of the talking and not pausing to listen themselves.  I don’t enjoy these types of conversations at all.  It can be very frustrating when the other person is not listening and is talking non-stop.

So for me, my introverted traits help me to be a good listener, but could hinder me if I am not careful.  I try to do a few things to be a good listener.  Some I am better at than others.

Be Present and Limit Distractions

As an introvert, it is easy for my mind to wander and so I need to make sure I am in the moment with the person and not somewhere else. Also part of this is not checking my phone, emails, etc.  I may want to close the door or take the conversation where there won’t be constant interruptions.

Concentrate on the other person and keep eye contact

I need to remember that I am listening and not making the conversation about me.  I am hearing what the person is saying and not only thinking about what I will say next.  I have a bad habit of matching the person’s story with one of my own.  Often this takes away from what they are trying to tell me.  It also helps me to focus on the person when I maintain eye contact.  Not a stare, but looking at the person regularly.

Try not to interrupt

This is a hard one for me.  I am always thinking and as someone is talking about something I have given much thought to, I naturally want to share my ideas.  I have to be careful to let the other person feel heard and let them fully express their thoughts before jumping in.

Ask Questions and Clarify

I am very good at asking questions.  I see connections between people and things and want more information.  I do need to be careful to not come off as an interrogator and often let the person know that I do have a few questions for them.  Also, in all my questioning I need to make sure this includes some clarifying questions so that I do understand the other person’s point of view.

So are introverts good listeners?  My answer is they can be.  Some are better than others and probably all can improve.  I do want to be a good listener.  I want to understand others and be understood, too.  I can get better knowing where I am weak and where I am strong.

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