Conquering Listening Barriers

Listening barriers can prevent effective listening if they aren’t understood and managed.

Here are some common barriers and ways to minimize them.

Distractions

Holding ones attention today is difficult enough without distractions.

Thus, we need to minimize distractions. Some of the standard distractions are:



Noise—Many times it is difficult to have a meaningful conversation due to a noisy location.

Noise comes in many forms: from people, equipment, street noise and more. When it becomes difficult to hear and concentrate move to a place that has less noise.

Visual—It can be tough to concentrate when there is a lot of activity or other visual distractions in the area. As with noise, move to a place where there are less visual distractions when required.

Stress—The stress in someone’s life can make it difficult to concentrate. Stress can be for many reasons such as family issues, work problems, financial concerns, illness of self or a family member, and more. Refocusing frequently works. If it doesn’t (and the conversation is important), then choose another time to talk.

Time—If a pressing appointment (for either you or the other person) won’t allow adequate time to address an issue effectively then choose a more convenient time.

Other Distractions

There are many other distractions that can draw needed attention away from conversations. Using common sense to minimize these distractions helps improve the environment for effective listening.

Cultural differences-All cultures have their own idiosyncrasies in communication. Being open minded to different communication styles helps minimize listening barriers.

Personal biases-Our filters have an effect on how and why we communicate with others. Being aware of these filters and keeping an open mind helps encourage effective communication.

Closed mindedness/biases-People who are closed minded with biases can be difficult to interact with. Keeping ones distance when possible is one method of addressing this. If that is not possible then keeping conversations short, professional and to the point is another alternative.


There are many barriers to listening . Being conscious that they are always present and working to minimize them encourages an effective listening environment.

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