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What Makes Us Bad: Understanding The Barriers To Effective Listening

1288 words - 5 pages

In life, there are some things a person is good at; things they think they are good at; and some things that a person is very, very bad at. Dating; for instance, is an activity that a man may think that he is good at while he may actually be a very bad date. Has anyone ever bothered to tell him? Probably, but what the man will hear is that the woman has too much personal baggage and decides that he does not want to be bothered with her anyways. In this way, he has avoided listening to the message that she has giving him and saved face. The woman, thinking that the man must be dense, walks away. The problem with communication is really on the part of both parties. Both parties must understand that the information being shared between them is an exchange of common symbols, signs, or behavior (Merriam-Webster). If they fail to pay attention to; give consideration to; or to hear something with thoughtful attention; then they have failed to listen (Merriam-Webster). Due to an inability to properly communicate and to listen to what is being communicated, this couple was bound to separate. In fact, all of our relationships-- with our family, friends, coworkers, and even complete strangers-- will be affected by our ability to listen and communicate. By learning to identify bad habits that distract us from listening; we will be able to increase our ability to listen and focus on what the communicator is saying, rather than what we think they intend to say. In order to be an effective listener, we must be able to identify what traits distract a person from listening and what specific techniques may be utilized to become better listeners.
The most common bad habit found in listening is interrupting. Many times when the subject is uninteresting or when we having information that we feel is relevant to the topic at hand, we interrupt the speaker without regard for the other party. There are many ways in which someone may interrupt the conversation; from taking a phone call; interjecting information such as, “that same thing happened to me just last week;” to finishing the speaker’s sentence for them. Interrupting someone not only shuts down the communicator, but it also shuts the listener down from hearing what is actually being said because they assume they already know and what they have to say, or do, is of more importance.
When the subject is not interesting to a person they tend to quit listening actively and tune the subject and communicator out. By tuning out the speaker and the conversation, the listener may be daydreaming, forming opposing opinions, or even faking attention while thinking about unrelated matters. This tendency to tune out uninteresting or irrelevant conversations is both rude and unprofessional; some medical professionals even go so far as to refer to this as a form of manipulation in a relationship (Dr George Simon). Many personal and professional relationships are harmed by this type of selective listening, as the other party...

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