Three Ways to Identify Manipulative Listening Tactics

Manipulative listening undermines leadership.

Three ways to spot manipulative listeners

Manipulators listen…

#1. To protect status.

If they speak, they may reveal ignorance. And heaven forbid they should be seen as anything less than all-knowing.

Self-protective listening is fearful self-interest.

You may have a title, but self-interest collides with the heart of servant leadership – others.

#2. To find fault and judge.

Fault-finding is judging through the lens of the past. When things line up with established knowledge, you nod agreement. But when ideas veer from past knowledge and experience, you find fault.

The problem with judging is the future is created by veering from established knowledge.

#3. To gather ammunition.

Some leaders listen to protect the status quo. Their orientation to ideas and suggestions is to explain “Why things won’t work.”

You often see “ammunition listening” in large institutions like higher education, healthcare, and governments. But ammunition gathering isn’t limited to the big boys.

Founders and all power hungry leaders love explaining why something won’t work.

The subtle intent of manipulative listening is self-justification.

New ideas need to be shot down because they offend established ideas. And guess who came up with the established ideas?

Motive to listen:

The motive of leadership is seeking the highest good of others. Anything less leads to manipulation.

You must listen before you can serve the highest good of others.

Manipulative listening creates distance. You can direct but you cannot lead from a distance. 

The future and listening:

Backward-facing listening leads to manipulative listening.

Listening like a leader means turning curiosity toward the future.

  1. What future are we creating?
  2. What might be?
  3. What are the possibilities?
  4. Who do we aspire to become?

What prevents deep listening?

How might leaders listen from a forward-facing posture?

Note: Explaining why things won’t work is important. That’s another post for another day.