How to Deal with Passive Listeners at Work?


Passive Listening is a real problem at work

Teamwork is not possible without communication. And communication is not possible without listening. But at times employees are left to deal with passive listeners at work, who are nevertheless good experts in their field of work. What do then? Some tips below.


1. The Yes Listener


Who is (s)he? Someone who always says “yes” (or the similar), not depending on what they think or if they heard you at all. Oh, and they never act on their “yes”.

How to work around them? Ask questions. Even if you don’t need the answers from them, you should end your sentences with “right?”. Like it or not, you need to get them involved in the conversation, right? Because no conversation means no teamwork means no result means no business.


2. The Know-It-All


Who is (s)he? Someone who knows how all the sentences in the world end.

How to work around them? First, understand it’s not personal. Deep down inside the Know-it-Alls usually feel that they...don’t know it all. So, whichever way they end your sentence, you should start yours with “This could be one of the options to…”. After that, whatever the KIA says, it will be just another option, too. This should open the gates to the dialogue and lower their guard.


3. The No Listener


Who is (s)he? Someone who always says “No” in one form or another, as in “It will never work” or “We don’t have the resources for that”.

How to work around them? Kill them with the “Why”. Just keep on asking the same question until they can’t ignore it, and will have to find real arguments or admit the lack of thereof.


4. The Non-Listener


Who is (s)he? Someone who never has the time to hear you (or anyone else) out.

How to work around them? This one is the hardest. Only way out is to approach this type of passive listener with the opening, like “I know you’re busy with X, so, I’m here to arrange a time slot to discuss Y”. Be persistent. They still say No? Give them options: Monday 9 or Friday 2? This way, they will be forced to give you an answer.


Being able to work with passive listeners at work is hard. And, when doing so, it’s important to know that it’s not personal, yet, a personalized approach is needed. Asking “why” until it doesn’t make sense, making time to speak to a “very busy” colleague, and giving options instead of giving opinions helps.


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