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Barriers to Effective Listening

Madhurjya Bhattacharyya Feb 15, 2019
Usually, people pay more attention to becoming better speakers or writers, but what about listening? There are several barriers to effective listening, and if you improve your listening skills, you are bound to be a good speaker.
One of the best ways of improving your communication is to listen carefully. However, many a time, people don't listen to what is being said, thereby creating barriers to effective listening.
Be it matters related to workplace, family matters or international relations, listening is important for improving communication between people and as such building better relationships. The sad part is we want others to listen to us, but we ourselves are bad listeners. So, if we want to be heard, we should be ready to listen.

Ways through which you Barricade Effective Communication

'I Know the Answer'

This means that before the speaker finishes speaking, you think that you know the answer already and interrupt him or her. Even if you disagree, you should let the speaker speak completely before answering anything. This is one of the most common barriers to listen effectively, especially, when discussion starts heating up, thereby degrading the discussion.
If you are interrupting the speaker, it means that you are demeaning what the speaker wants to convey. Respect is one of the key elements to good listening. If you think that you know the answer, you are pre-judging the speaker and you have a closed mind towards what is being said.
If you want to overcome this, you should listen carefully to what is being said, and then frame a few questions and answers, wait a couple of seconds and then start speaking.

Never Try to Help

Whenever a speaker speaks, many a time, listeners try to help the speaker. Though it may seem as if you are trying to help, but actually it's not so and is one of the most important barriers to effective communication in the workplace.
In reality, it interferes with the listening process. You as a listener would think about the solutions to the perceived problems of the speaker, and as a result the chances of what the speaker actually wants to say is lost.
To overcome this problem, you should set up a separate meeting or session for advising the speaker. People don't remember that it's considered rude to extend advice when not asked for, even though they know it.
Whatever may be the reason for advising, if the listener listens carefully, he or she would be able to give a better insight into whatever is being said. If you feel that you have something to say, which the speaker may not know, then you should politely ask if you can suggest something.

Agreement: A Sign of Weakness

Many a time, there is a perception that in a heated discussion the speakers should not agree, or else it shows a sign of weakness. Even if they agree inside, there is a feeling that, every point spoken by a particular speaker must be challenged. In such a case, it doesn't remain a discussion, but becomes a contest.
If you treat discussion as competition, it becomes a serious impediment to good listening. It prevents the listener from looking at a particular topic from a different point of view which can then become frustrating for the speaker.
To overcome this, you should voice disagreement, but make it a point to put forth your point after the speaker has finished speaking, instead of interrupting. Voice your dissent wherever you disagree, but at the same time, if you agree on anything, you should speak that up.

Reaction to Particular Words

While speaking, a speaker may use such phrases and words which may be offensive to the listener, and the speaker may not have intended to offend the listener in any way. In such a case, the listener would not be able to pay complete attention to what is being said. To be a good listener, learn to minimize distraction caused by certain words and phrases.
If you get distracted with such uttering, you won't be able to pay attention to what is being said. To overcome this, let the speaker complete whatever he or she wants to say, listen carefully, make mental notes of what you disagree and when the speaker has finished, confront him or her. You can ask him or her to confirm and clarify what he or she meant.
So to be a good listener, you need to overcome barriers to effective listening. It's only if you listen to whatever is being said, you can put forth counter arguments and make the discussion lively.