Poor Listening Skills

  • Poor Listening Skills

    Habits to Differentiate Good From Poor Listening
    Entered by Carter McNamara, PhD | Applies to nonprofits and for-profits unless noted
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    This information is from "How to Be a Better Listener" by Sherman K. Okum, Nation's Business, August 1975, and from "Building a Professional Image: Improving Listening Behavior" by Philip Morgan and Kent Baker, Supervisory Management, November 1995

    Only about 25 percent of listeners grasp the central ideas in communications. To improve listening skills, consider the following:

    Poor Listener

    Effective Listener

    tends to "wool-gather" with slow speakers

    thinks and mentally summarizes, weighs the evidence, listens between the lines to tones of voice and evidence

    subject is dry so tunes out speaker

    finds what's in it for me

    distracted easily

    fights distractions, sees past bad communication habits, knows how to concentrate

    takes intensive notes, but the more notes taken, the less value; has only one way to take notes

    has 2-3 ways to take notes and organize important information

    is overstimulated, tends to seek and enter into arguments

    doesn't judge until comprehension is complete

    inexperienced in listening to difficult material; has usually sought light, recreational materials

    uses "heavier" materials to regularly exercise the mind

    lets deaf spots or blind words catch his or her attention

    interpret color words, and doesn't get hung up on them

    shows no energy output

    holds eye contact and helps speaker along by showing an active body state

    judges delivery -- tunes out

    judges content, skips over delivery errors

    listens for facts

    listens for central ideas