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Communication,  Executive Presence,  Leadership,  Self-leadership

5 Barriers To Effective Listening

In today’s ever-evolving landscape, effective listening has emerged as a crucial skill for leaders. Yet, it remains a challenge for many. What stands in the way?

While lack of trust, negative stereotypes, superiority, fear, and ego are significant barriers, other subtler tendencies hinder us even in more favorable environments. In this article, I delve into these subtle ones, which diminish listening for even well-meaning individuals in living rooms, boardrooms, and Zoom meetings.

1: Under time pressure

When you feel you are under time pressure, you rush to respond without taking the time to understand the speaker’s intention or state of mind.

2: Fractional listening

You listen as much as you need so you can relate to something you already know. And then, you formulate your response before they finish speaking.

3: Need to correct others

You feel compelled to correct the speaker’s thoughts midway, believing it benefits everyone.

4: Too eager to share your idea

You are so eager to share your idea that you lose patience and interrupt the speaker.

5: Overlooking opinions posed as questions

Failing to recognize when someone shares their viewpoint in the guise of a question, potentially due to differing communication styles or a lack of psychological safety.

I admit that I have done all of those in my life. Despite my self-awareness and training, I sometimes do those under pressure, even today. You may ask, so what? Why do we need to be aware of those tendencies?

The Issues Arising from These Tendencies

  1. Your message will have less or no impact.
    Imparting knowledge prematurely can diminish its impact, regardless of its wisdom. Without receptivity, your insights may fall flat.
  2. You will solve the wrong problem.
    Limited perspectives hinder problem-solving. Without hearing the other person’s viewpoints, your understanding remains constrained, potentially failing to recognize the real problem.
  3. Your relationships will be strained.
    Failure to listen attentively or frequent interruptions can erode trust and undermine our connection, harming relationships in the process.
  4. You will be perceived as insensitive.
    Neglecting to acknowledge disguised opinions may make you seem indifferent, causing others to perceive you as insensitive to their input.

Now, pause for a moment and identify your most prevalent tendency. Over the next few days, as you have conversations, reflect on moments when these tendencies surface. This practice cultivates self-awareness, enabling you to catch yourself in the act in real time. If you want to go further, ask a friend or colleague to watch you and give feedback. With time and persistence, you’ll enhance your listening skills, which in turn will help you create stronger impact and relationships both professionally and personally.

Featured image: RobinHiggins at Pixabay.com

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