Listener Talk, typical of Japanese communication, places the listener at the center of interaction. Listener Talk differs from many western styles of communication where the onus of the explicit form of communication Victor (1992) calls the Direct Plan is on the speaker. Listener Talk finds its roots in the others-centered focus of Buddhist and Taoist traditions and the values the communicators place on silence and implicit talk.

Drawing on data from both intracultural and cross-cultural bank meetings, I bring to fore a strategy I examined in my book, Different Games, Different Rules (1997), and two additional strategies for Listener Talk communication. The first strategy is the shared use of silence to topic-shift, or begin and end topics. The second Listener Talk strategy used to collect and verify information is interpretation and reinterpretation. The final Listener Talk strategy examined here is disagreement, or the way Japanese disagree without actually saying the word “No.” By highlighting the communicative perspective of a listener-driven speaker, I hope to open the investigation to the little studied role of the listener and re-examine what it means to communicate from an Others-centered focus.