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Education Resources

Barriers to Effective Listening from SMU MBA MB0023 of Business Communication

Monday, June 7, 2010

Listening is the most important part of the communication process. However, listening skills do not come naturally to most people; these require willingness, practice and patience to develop on the part of the person, who wishes to acquire these skills.

There are many reasons as to why individuals fail to listen successfully. These include:

Interrupting is a problem for many reasons. First, it is an aggressive behavior and will most likely bring a negative response from the speaker being interrupted.

Faking attention and tuning out can be offensive and is usually hard to hide. This hurts the speaker as it sends him the message that the listener doesn’t really care about what the speaker is saying.

Becoming emotional can hinder one’s ability to listen. It is important that the receiver be aware of his or her emotions.

Jumping to conclusions is often considered as the most common barrier to listening. The listening, to be effective, should be done with full attention to whatever the speaker has to say.

Getting distracted is common while trying to communicate. Often, one has many tasks to do or there is a lot of other activity taking place while someone is trying to communicate.

Pre-judging the subject: Often, instead of listening to the speaker, many people tend to assume that the subject is boring or dull. During any conversation, presentation or speech, they turn their attention to other things or simply day-dream.

Wrong focus: Another barrier of listening is the focus of the listener on appearance and delivery of the speaker. The listeners observe the appearance and the delivery style of speaker instead of listening to what is being said.

Gathering only facts: Many people listen to gather facts instead or trying to understand the underlying idea and integrated it with non-verbal communication.

Inflexibility while listening: Many formal speeches are not carefully outlined and organized.

Avoiding complicated subjects: When the subject is technical or complicated, many people stop listening altogether.

The strategies that one has to develop in order to be a good listener are: Providing clues that one is actively involved, concentrating while someone is talking, refraining from formulating an immediate response, trying to prepare beforehand, being prepared to accept revisions and being sure that the environment is conducive to listening.

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