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Five Forms of Poor Listening Skills

Updated on June 2, 2011

Five Forms of Poor Listening Skills

1. Pseudo listening is a form of non-listening in which someone only pretends to listen when they really are not. Typical non-listening behavior includes smiling and nodding occasionally, and looking directly at the speaker. Other non-listening techniques include "stage-hogging" in which the listener changes the conversation on purpose so that the conversation is about him or her.

For example, if someone is having a conversation about their work, the non-listener will chime in about something unrelated yet make the conversation the subject of him or her. The non-listener is deliberately trying to tune out what is being said and shows disrespect for the speaker. When the non-listener tunes out someone or changes the topic it’s because they are genuinely not interested in what is being said to them. In my opinion, this type of person just wants to maintain control over the conversation, which, to me is disrespectful.

My daughter is a classic example of a pseudo listener because she acts just like her father. They are both the non-listening type. Whenever I tell her father something he automatically tunes me out or worse, talks over me. He has an annoying loudmouth just like his aunt and uncle. It seems just about everyone I have ever met in his family have the same rude, annoying habit of talking over people and tuning them out. They just want to control the conversation and change the topic to something of their liking.

2. Form of ineffective listening, monopolizing: This means when someone continually focuses listening on themselves, not the speaker. The person listening keeps shifting the topic to themselves. To me, this is a very selfish and narcissistic approach to listening because the person wants the conversation to be all about them!

3. Form of ineffective listening, selective listening: Involves listening to only parts of the conversation. Selective listening happens because people cannot absorb everything being said. So they use selective listening as a sort of screening tool to filter out parts of a conversation. I compare this to skimming pages when reading. When I read a textbook or novel I tend to skim read the pages because I simply cannot absorb every single word. Trying to do so would lead to information overload and leave me with a headache.

4. Form of ineffective listening, defensive listening: Defensive listening happens when someone perceives a personal attack on them. For instance, if I tell someone that they look like they have lost weight, the person might think I’m suggesting that they used to look fat. I didn’t intend to criticize them, I merely meant to compliment that person on how they look now than they did before.

5. Form of ineffective listening, literal listening: This type of ineffective listening happens only when the listener ignores the relationship level of meaning. By listening literally we become insensitive to other’s feelings. One example of listening on a literal level is when a boss dishes out the company policy on sick leave, but has no real interest in the sick worker’s reason for taking off from work.

Best piece of advice I can give is to avoid using these five poor listening traits. If you have a habit of being a non-listener and exhibit any of the five non-listening behaviors, then begin working on your listening skills. Start today. Be truly interested in the conversations you have with others, don't interrupt often, wait your turn to speak, don't change the subject to suit your selfish interests and don't talk over people as this is rude.  



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