Chapter 4 Listening

4.5 Ineffective Listening Behaviors

Ineffective Listening Behaviors

At times, the barriers to effective listening (i.e., why listening is difficult) cause us to engage in ineffective listening behaviors. When our goal is to create shared meaning with others, these behaviors interrupt this process.

Pseudolistening– pretending to listen and appears attentive but is not listening to understand or interpret the information (listeners may respond with a smile, head-nod, or even a minimal verbal acknowledgment but are ignoring or not attending).

Selective Listeningselecting only the information that the listeners identify as relevant to their own needs or interests (listeners may have their own agenda and disregard topics if they do not align with their current attitudes or beliefs).

Insulated Listeningignoring or avoiding information or certain topics of conversation (the opposite of selective listening).

Defensive Listeningtaking innocent comments as personal attacks (listeners misinterpret or project feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and guilt, or lack of confidence in the other person).

Insensitive Listeninglistening to information for its literal meaning and disregarding the other person’s feeling and emotions (listeners rarely pick-up on hidden meanings or subtle nonverbal cues and have difficulty expressing sympathy and empathy).

Stage Hogginglistening to express one’s own ideas or interests and be the center of attention (listeners often plan what they are going to say or interrupt while the other person is talking).

Ambushingcareful and attentive listening to collect information that can be used against the other person as an attack (listeners question, contradict, or oppose the other person to trap them or use their own words against them).

Multitaskinglistening without full attention while attempting to complete more than one task at a time (listeners are actually “switch tasking” and your brain is switching from one task to another rapidly and the information is lost). Review the article from the NPR broadcast, “Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again” (Hamilton, 2008).


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