Four Types of Listeners

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Good listening skills are an important part of communicating effectively. According to Union University, listening is required to gather facts and information and to demonstrate care and concern. Research suggests that 42 to 60 percent of time is spent listening depending on the job. Being a good listener requires patience, concentration and recognition that there are different ways that people listen.

1 People

People-oriented listeners respond to feelings, emotions and seek to develop a connection with the speaker. According to, this type of listening style is concerned about others and talks about "we” more than "you" or "they." Storytelling is an effective way of communicating with people-oriented listeners because they are empathetic. However, this type of listener may be seen as intrusive because they want to know about personal issues and may become too involved with others. People-oriented listeners provide clear verbal and non-verbal clues and respond well to humor and illustrations.

2 Action

Avoid rambling when dealing with action-oriented listeners. Action-oriented listeners want speakers to get the point quickly, be concise and focus on work expectations. They are confident, critical, focused on solving problems and want to get tasks done. People who listen according to this style may be impatient, speak over others and complete another person’s sentence. Action listeners are not concerned with establishing relationships or listening to a drawn-out story. Effective communication with action-oriented listeners needs to be direct, organized and delivered at a fast but controlled pace.

3 Content

Content listeners are also not interested in feelings; rather, they are concerned about the details. This listener looks at all sides of an argument and rejects information that is not supported with evidence or expert opinion. Content-oriented listeners do not mind technical information or speaking in groups and they make sure that conclusions are related to the facts. They may intimidate people because they ask tough questions, play “devil’s advocate” and take a long time making decisions. Graphs and charts are good tools to use when speaking with content-oriented listeners.

4 Time

Being detailed, concise and organized are effective when communicating with time-oriented listeners because they are focused on time. These listeners want quick and brief messages that get directly to the point because they have a sense of needing to be busy and generally have a "things to do" list. Time-oriented listeners tend to set aside a specific time for a meeting or discussion. They frequently look at the clock, interrupt others or rush and remind speakers of how much time is left. Keep track of time when communicating with this type of listener.

Residing in Michigan, Ann Perry has been writing about health and fitness since 2004. She holds a Master of Arts in anthropology, as well as a Master of Public Health.