Types of Non-Listening


1. Pseudo-Listening

Pseudo listener is an imitation of the real thing. Good pseudo listeners give the appears of being attentive: they look you in the eye, nod and smile at the right times, and may even answer you occasionally. Behind that appearance of interest, however, something entirely different is going on, for they use a polite façade to mask thoughts that have nothing to do with what the speaker is saying. Often pseudo listeners ignore you because of something on their mind that’s taking their attention. In the exchanged moment, the pseudo listener is having trouble being present with you.

2. Stage-Hogging

Stage-hogs (sometimes called “conversational narcissists”) try to turn the topic of conversations to themselves instead of showing interest on the speaker A stage-hogger will often interrupt. When confronted with stage-hogs, people respond in one of two ways. Sometimes they reaction is passive: talking less, tuning out the speaker, showing disinterest nonverbally, and leaving the conversation. Other strategies are more active: trying to recapture the floor, hinting about the stage-hog’s dominance, or confronting the speaker about their narcissism. This may provide a stage-hog a lesson but can also create tug-of-war. Note: not all interruptions are attempts at stage-hogging.

3. Selective Listening

Selective listeners respond only to the parts of the conversation (or your remarks) that interest them, rejecting everything else. All of us are selective listeners, for example screening out commercials, weather reports, etc. In other cases, selective listening occurs in conversations with people who expect a subject turns to their favourite topic -perhaps money, movies, sex, a hobby or some particular person.

4. Insulated Listening

Insulated listeners are almost the opposite of their selective cousins just mentioned. Instead of looking for something, these people avoid it. Whenever a topic arises that they’d rather not deal with, insulated listeners simply fail to hear or acknowledge it. You remind them about a problem, perhaps an unfinished job, poor grades, or the like, and they’ll nod or answer you and then promptly forget what you’ve said.

5. Defensive Listening

Defensive listeners take things you intended as innocent comments as personal attacks. The teenager who perceives her parents’ questions about her friends and activities as distrustful snooping is a defensive listener, as is the insecure breadwinner who explodes any time his/her mate mentions money, or the parent who views any questioning by her children as a threat to his/her authority.

6. Ambushing

Ambushers listen carefully to you, but only because they’re collecting information they’ll use to attack later what you say. The cross-examining prosecution attorney is a good example of an ambusher. Needless to say, using this kind of strategy will justifiable initiate defensiveness in the other person. (Edit what you say to an amusher)

7. Insensitive Listening

Insensitive listeners aren’t able to look beyond the words and behaviour to understand their hidden meaning. Instead, they take a speaker’s remarks at face value. (Edit what you say to an insensitive listener)


Ask Yourself These Questions:

Who are the people who listen to best? Or, who are the people with whom myou do more pseudo-listening with?

What is it about this person that makes it easier or harder to listen to them?

Are there any people with whom you want to do more real listening?


Choose one person you could relate to better. For one day, commit yourself to real listening. After each encounter, check your intention in listening. Were you trying to understand them, enjoy them, learn something, or give help or solace? Notice if you were doing any pseudo-listening, and what needs your pseudo-listening, satisfied.

Habits form easily. If you continue this exercise for a week, attention to the quality of your listening would begin to be automatic.


Listening Habits Checklist

1. Science says you think four times faster than a person usually talks to you. Do you use this excess time to turn your thoughts elsewhere while you are keeping general track of a conversation?

Do you listen primarily for facts rather than ideas, when someone is speaking?

Do certain words, phrases or ideas so prejudice you against the speaker that cannot listen objectively to what is being said?

When you are puzzled or annoyed by what someone says, do you try to get the question straightened out immediately either in your own mind or by interrupting the speaker?

If you feel it would take too much time and effort to understand something, do you go out of your way to avoid hearing about it?

If you answer “no” to all these questions, then you are that rare individual – the perfect listener.

Do you deliberately turn your thoughts to other subjects when you believe a speaker will have nothing particularly interesting to say?

Can you tell by a person’s appearance and delivery that she won’t have anything worthwhile to say?

When someone is talking to you, do you try to make him think you’re paying attention when you’re not?

When you’re listening to someone, are you easily distracted by outside sights and sounds?

If you want to remember what someone is saying, do you think it is a good idea to write it down as she goes along?

Every “yes” answer means that you are guilty of a specific bad listening habit. 😛


Coming up next time: Blocks to Listening




Reference: Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital Out Patients,  Oakville ON










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