Part 1 of this series  I differentiated between hearing, listening, and active listening.    I also mentioned the types of habits we have formed over the years due to poor listening skills.


Here i will explore the  reasons why these annoying habits were formed.

Learning not to listen We learn a lot about not listening while growing up. For example, a parent tells us by shouting “Don’t forget to wear your jacket to school!” But we don’t want to wear a jacket, so we “learn” to not listen. Later, at school, the teacher repeats an assignment several times, hoping to make certain that all the students have heard it. The teacher’s behaviour reinforces not listening, since there will be multiple opportunities for us to get the information. Another example is found in the focus given to repetition in radio and television advertising. This repetition further conditions us against listening carefully the first time.

Mismatch between thought speed and speaking speed: A mind (of any human being while he is listening) can process 400 words per minute whereas a human being can speak only about 125 words only. During this free time gap available to the listener’s mind, it wanders away into other topics since it has idle capacity and gets distracted from the speaker’s topic. This is one of the reasons why the mind wanders fast from one subject to the other.

Calling the subject dull: Bad listeners often find a subject too dry and dusty to command their attention and they use this as an excuse to wander off on a mental tangent.  Concentration is very low here and it’s a big detriment to effective listening hence we breed the daydreamers.  Too much repetition can cause someone to ‘tune out’ and not listen also lack of interest in the current subject. You go to a meeting/event, the MC announces the topic or you see it on a program, and say to yourself, “Gosh, this is going to be dull” You’d think they should focus on a subject that is more interesting.” So you’ve convinced yourself the topic is uninteresting and you turn to the many other thoughts and concerns you’ve stored up in your mind for just such an occasion — you start using that unoccupied 75 per cent of your mental capacity.

Criticizing the speaker: It’s the indoor sport of most bad listeners to find fault with the way a speaker looks, acts, and talks.  Many of us do this on a regular basis. We tend to mentally criticize the speaker for not speaking distinctly, for talking too softly, for reading, for not looking the audience in the eye. We often do the same thing with the speaker’s appearance. If speakers aren’t dressed as we think they should be, we probably tend not to listen closely or we may immediately classify the speaker as a liberal or conservative, a hippie, area boy, or a nerd.

Jumping into conclusions:  we so often put words into a speaker’s mouth. It is one reason we communicate so poorly with the people we are closet to because we assume or are so sure we know what they mean, we really don’t listen to what they say…. this is so common with our loved ones we 2nd guess every word they say and find it hard to listen our minds are really closed in a funny way.. Hearing what we expect rather than what the other person means can pose a big problem.

Help Addiction: You feel the need to help people when they need someone to listen to and understand them. The tendency to look for or seek out solutions when others are hurt, frustrated, or angry is viewed as trying to be helpful (even though the speaker did not explicitly request your recommendations or intervention). Hence we breed the advice giver.

Fear: When you are afraid it paralyses you and impedes your listening… An example you have a boss who you fear so much so sometimes when he gives instructions you find it hard to look into his eyes and clarify some issues you don’t understand.  Fear is a great barrier to listening. People who are afraid during a conversation are not likely to listen.

Talking when we should be listening: Our entire culture seems to condition us to talk, not to listen. The silent act of listening seems no match for the messages hurled at us almost incessantly. The way to control things—to have things go our way—seems to be by out-talking others. Some justify this behaviour by saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” But the truth of the matter is that we miss a lot by talking when we should be listening. A wise person once observed that since we were created with one mouth and two ears, we should spend twice as much time listening than talking. More of us should heed this advice.

 Listening is the most powerful tool in communication as we spend  75percent of our time listening  the sad thing is that there is not so much emphasis on listening and it affects all areas of our lives, next week I will discuss how poor listening affects us.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”