Listening Barriers

Essay by mommyoftwo September 2009

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Listening is a complex process of selecting, attending to, constructing meaning from, remembering, and responding to verbal and nonverbal messages. Listening involves the process of selecting, sorting through various sounds that compete for your attention; Attending to, focusing on a particular sound or message; Understanding, assigning meaning to sounds; Remembering, recalling information; and Responding, confirming your understanding of a message. Whether an individual is aware of it or not, everyone has a specific listening style, (preferred way of making sense out of the spoken messages that are heard) that applies to them. In this paper I will discuss the different listening styles and barriers, the ones I personally have identified with, and their cause and effect on my being.

The most direct way to improve overall communication is by learning to listen more effectively. Listeners tend to fall into one of four listening styles: people-oriented, action-oriented, content-oriented, and time-oriented. People-oriented listeners are comfortable with and skilled at listening to people's feelings and emotions.

Action-oriented listeners prefer information that is well organized, brief, and error free. Content-oriented listeners are more comfortable listening to detailed information than people with other listening styles. Time-oriented listeners like their messages delivered succinctly. Although, knowing your listening style can help you understand how to adapt to various listening situations, there are listening barriers that keep us from catching other's meaning.

The listening barriers that affect our listening styles and skills are as follows: being self absorbed, unchecked emotions, criticizing the speaker, different speech and thought rate, shifting attention, information overload, external noise, and listener apprehension. I, personally, struggleListening Barriers 3with listening in company meetings at my place of employment. The listening barriers that apply to my attention span during these meetings are information overload and criticizing the speaker.

Our meetings take place an hour before...