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5 Forms of Poor Listening Skills

Updated on July 26, 2011

5 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.

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.

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    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 5 years ago

      You articulate those 5 problems in listening very clearly. Thanks for helping me find myself in some of the traps I fall into. I think that admitting to being unable to absorb too much information on something I already don't understand could be helpful to the conversation. thank you

    • lortiz59 lm profile image

      lortiz59 lm 6 years ago

      @Panela: Thanks, I appreciate the comments. Sometimes I'm not a good listener either. Sometimes I'm guilty of #3--selective listening.

    • Panela profile image

      Panela 6 years ago

      damn, I'm guilty of all 5 poor listening skills... great info here (=

    • lortiz59 lm profile image

      lortiz59 lm 6 years ago

      @aka sakabato: Aka__sakabato, thanks for the comments. There are many people who are selective listeners and just as many who are fixers and belittlers. All of these can be destructive to good communication because one person tries to "fix" someone else by butting in or cutting off someone during conversation. The other belittles or name-calls. There's also the blamers and those who scapegoat. The blamers shift blame or fault on someone else to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. An example of this is someone saying, "if you weren't here, my car would not have run out of gas". While the scapegoater says, "the food is ruined because you didn't follow the recipe like I told you". In each instance, healthy communication is destroyed.

      These behaviors are rude and can make someone feel bad.

    • aka sakabato profile image

      aka sakabato 6 years ago

      nice lens, I am a selective listener according to your lens.