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BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE LISTENING

ALTHOUGH LISTENING HAS MUCH IMPORTANCE, THE QUALITY OF LISTENING IS


GENERALLY POOR AND MISUNDERSTANDINGS ARE THE RULE RATHER THAN
EXCEPTION.
THERE ARE CERTAIN REASONS AND BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE LISTENING IE

•PHYSIOLOGICAL,
•ENVIRONMENTAL,
•ATTITUDINAL,
•FAULTY ASSUMPTIONS,
•SOCIOCULTURAL DIFFERENCES,
•LACK OF TRAINING.

LET’S HAVE SOME DETAILS ABOUT THEM.

1. PHYSIOLOGICAL BARRIERS-THEY MAY BE

• A- HEARING PROBLEMS-
THESE ARE THE ACTUAL HEARING DEFICIENCIES WHICH CAN BE TREATED. SUCH
DEFECTS CAUSE EMPLOYEES ANGER AND DISAPPOINTMENT. SOME PEOPLE HAVE
AUDITORY PROCESSING PROBLEMS LIKE AUDITORY DISCRIMINATION, SEQUENCING
OF THE HEARD ITEMS, OR MEMORY WHICH CREATE THE APPEARANCE OF NOT
LISTENING OR PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT IS SAID BUT ACTUALLY IT IS BECAUSE OF
PHYSIOLOGICAL DISORDER AND INTENTIONAL DISREGARD.

•B- RAPID THOUGHT-


LISTENERS CAN PROCESS INFORMATION AT A FASTER SPEED(SAY 500 WORDS/M)
THAN THE SPEAKER TALK(SAY AROUND 125 WORDS/M) GIVING THE LISTENERS, AMPLE
MENTAL SPACE TIME. WHILE IT IS POSSIBLE TO USE THIS TIME TO EXPLORE THE
SPEAKER’S IDEAS, BUT WE MOST OFTEN LET OUR MINDS WANDER TO OTHER
MATTERS.

2. ENVIRONMENTAL BARRIERS-THEY MAY BE

• A- PHYSICAL DISTRACTIONS-
A STUFFY, OR ODDLY SHAPED ROOM, NOISY MACHINES, EXCESSIVE OR POOR
LIGHTING, OVERHEATING, OR INTENSE COLD ARE A FEW EXAMPLES WHICH HAMPER
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION.

• B- MESSAGE OVERLOAD-
IT IS HARD TO LISTEN AND THINK CARE-FULLY WHEN THE PHONE RINGS EVERY FEW
MOMENTS, PEOPLE KEEP DROPPING IN TO LOAD YOUR MIND WITH QUICK MESSAGES,
AND YOUR COMPUTER CONTINUOUSLY BEEPS TO LET YOU KNOW YOU HAVE
INCOMING MAIL, ETC. COPING WITH A DELUGE OF THIS VARIED INFORMATION IS LIKE
JUGGLING-YOU CAN KEEP ONLY A FEW THINGS GOING AT A TIME.

3. ATTITUDINAL BARRIERS- THEY MAY INCLUDE

• A- PREOCCUPATION-
BUSINESS AND PERSONAL CONCERNS DISTRACT YOUR MIND FROM THE SUBJECT AT
HAND. EVEN WHEN YOUR CURRENT CONVERSATION IS IMPORTANT, OTHER
UNFINISHED BUSINESS CAN DIVERT YOUR ATTENTION EG, THE CALL TO AN ANGRY
CUSTOMER, THE QUESTIONS ASKED BY THE BOSS ABOUT YOUR DELAYS, INTERVIEW
WITH THE NEW SUPPLIER, AND YOUR PERSONAL PROBLEMS YOU HAVE, EG WITH THE
BABY-SITTER, GROCER, OR AUTOMECHANIC, ETC.
• B- EGOCENTRISM-
ONE REASON FOR POOR LISTENING IS THE BELIEF-USUALLY MISTAKEN-THAT YOUR
OWN IDEAS ARE CORRECT, MORE IMPORTANT, OR MORE VALUABLE, THAN THOSE OF
OTHERS. THIS WILL PREVENT YOU FROM LEARNING USEFUL NEW INFORMATION, AND
ALSO THIS EGOCENTRIC ATTITUDE IS LIKELY TO ALIENATE THE PERSONS WITH WHOM
YOU HAVE TO WORK. WHILE SOME AMOUNT OF SELF-PROMOTION CAN BE HELPFUL IN
CAREER ADVANCEMENT, ADVANCING YOUR OWN IDEAS AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS’
CAN CAUSE YOU TO SLIP DOWN A RUNG OR TWO AS YOU CLIMB THE CAREER LADDER.

4. FAULTY ASSUMPTIONS-THEY MAY BE

• A- ASSUMING EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION THE SENDER’S RESPONSIBILITY-


MANAGEMENT EXPERT PETER DRUCKER SAYS THAT COMMUNICATION DEPENDS ON
BOTH THE RECEIVER AND THE SENDER: “IT IS THE RECIPIENT WHO COMMUNICATES.
THE SO-CALLED COMMUNICATOR WHO EMITS THE COMMUNICATION, DOES NOT
COMMUNICATE. HE UTTERS. UNLESS THERE IS SOMEONE WHO HEARS…THERE IS
ONLY NOISE.” SO EVEN THE MOST THOUGHTFUL, AND CLEAR IDEA IS WASTED IF THE
INTENDED RECEIVER FAILS TO LISTEN. IN SHORT, THE RECEIVER SHOULD CHANGE
HIS FAULTY ASSUMPTION AND ASSUME THAT BOTH THE SPEAKER AND THE LISTENER
SHARE THE BURDEN OF REACHING AN UNDERSTANDING.

• B- ASSUMING THAT LISTENING IS PASSIVE-


SOME COMMUNICATORS ASSUME THAT LISTENING IS BASICALLY A PASSIVE ACTIVITY
IN WHICH THE RECEIVER IS A SPONGE WHO QUIETLY ABSORB THE SPEAKER’S
THOUGHTS. IT IS NOT RIGHT, IN FACT, YOU HAVE TO SPEAK IN THE FORM OF ASKING
QUESTIONS OR PARAPHRASING THE SENDER’S IDEAS, MAKING SURE YOU HAVE
UNDERSTOOD THEM. EVEN SILENCE SHOULD NOT BE MISTAKEN FOR PASSIVITY.

• C- MISCONCEPTION THAT TALKING HAS MORE ADVANTAGES THAN LISTENING-


IT SEEMS THAT SPEAKERS CONTROL THINGS WHILE
LISTENERS ARE THE FOLLOWERS AND THAT LISTENING IS WEAKNESS, PASSIVITY, AND
LACK OF POWER. PEOPLE WHO DO THE TALKING HAVE THE POWER TO CAPTURE
EVERYONE’S ATTENTION AND THAT TALKING IS THE PATHWAY TO SUCCESS. IT IS NOT
THE FAIR VIEW. IN THE WORDS OF SUSAN PETERSON, GOOD LISTENING IS 80 TO 90
PERCENT OF BEING A GOOD MANAGER AND AN EFFECTIVE LEADER. ANOTHER
EXPERT WHO CAME ACROSS A SIGN IN AN OFFICE WHICH READ, “THE WAY TO GET
JOHN BROWN’S VISION IS TO LISTEN TO WHAT JOHN BROWN HAS TO SAY.”

5. SOCIOCULTURAL DIFFERENCES-
SOME PROBLEMS OCCUR DUE TO DIFFERING STYLES OF EACH COMMUNICATOR,
SOME ARISE FROM CULTURAL COMMUNICATION STYLES, WHILE OTHERS COME FROM
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE COMMUNICATION STYLES. LET’S HAVE
SOME DETAILS

• A- CULTURAL DIFFERENCES-
DIFFERENCE OF ACCENT IS THE MOST OBVIOUS WHEN PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT
CULTURES COMMUNICATE. THIS ACCENT CAN BE A SOURCE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
NOISE WHEN IT INTERFERES WITH YOUR ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND. IT IS A SPECIAL
PROBLEM IN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION.

• B- GENDER DIFFERENCES-
WOMEN OFTEN PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THE KINDS OF RELATIONAL MESSAGES,
WHILE MEN OFTEN PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THE CONTENT OF INFORMATION.
ANOTHER DIFFERENCE INVOLVES “LISTENING NOISES”-VOCALIZERS SUCH AS “UNH”
AND “UMMM” THAT SIGNAL ATTENTION. ACCORDING TO RESEARCHERS, WOMEN MAY
USE THEM TO SIGNAL ATTENTION WHILE MEN USE THEM TO SIGNAL AGREEMENT.
WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO CATCH THE FEELINGS BEHIND A SPEAKER’S WORDS,
WHILE MEN TEND TO LISTEN FOR THE FACTS.

6. LACK OF TRAINING-
LISTENING MAY SEEM LIKE A NATURAL ABILITY SAY BREATHING AND YOU MIGHT SAY,
“I’VE BEEN LISTENING SINCE MY CHILDHOOD JUST LIKE I’VE BEEN TALKING. HOWEVER,
IT DOESN’T MEAN MOST DO IT WELL. HENCE MOST OF THE MAJOR ORGANIZATIONS EG
3M, GENERAL ELECTRIC, AND XEROX HAVE INCLUDED LISTENING SKILLS IN THEIR
TRAINING PROGRAMS WHICH WERE USED BY MILLIONS OF EMPLOYEES IN 71,000
COMPANIES. FOR THIS PURPOSE, THEY ARE SPENDING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.