Barriers to listening

Barriers to listening – Child Psychology

Listening barriers may be psychological (e.g. emotions) or physical (e.g. noise and visual distraction). Cultural differences including speakers’ accents, vocabulary, and misunderstandings due to cultural assumptions often obstruct the listening process.

Frequently, the listener’s personal interpretations, attitudes, biases, and prejudices lead to ineffective communication.Whilst activelylistening, it is important that a counselor stops any other kind of distraction. This includes the natural dialogue that everyone has running through their mind constantly. Forming judgments, regarding what is being said, is also a block to actively listening, as is the urge to provide information at, what may be, an inappropriate pause in the conversation.

The following are the most common obstacles to listening:

A. “Interval listening”.

This bad habit due to the fact that most of us think 4 times as quickly as the average person speaks so that the listener gets ¾ minute “spare time” for each minute of listening. Sometimes we use this extra time to take a break and think of our own problems instead of listening.

B. “Open ears – closed mind listening”.

Sometimes we decide rather quickly that either the subject or the other person is boring, and that it is not worth listening to what is being said. Often we believe that we can predict what the other person knows or is going to say, and we think that there is no reason to listen because there will be nothing new.

C. “Glass eye listening”.

Sometimes we look intensely at the other person and seem to be listening through ourminds although our thoughts are perhaps far away.We fall back into our own pleasant thoughts and get “glass eyes” and a dreaming expression in our face. It is easy to see when people look at us in this way, so nobody can be fooled by it.

D. “Too difficult for me listening”.

When we listen to something that is too complex, there is a risk that we will close our minds to it.

E. “Personally offended listening”.

We don’t like to have our favourite ideas, prejudices, or views challenged too much.When the other person says something that conflicts with what we believe or value, we unconsciously stop listening, get defensive, and perhaps begin to plan a counter attack.

F. “Subject-centered listening instead of person-centered”

Sometimes we concentrate on the subject and not on the person speaking; the details and facts of an incident become more important than the statements people make about  themselves.

G. “Facts listening”

When we listen, we often try to remember facts and repeat them over and over, again to hold on to them.While doing this, the other person has gone on to new facts, which are lost in the process of remembering the others.

H. “Note-taking listening”

If we try to note down most of what the other person says, we inevitably lose some of it, because the other person talks faster than we can write and eye contact becomes difficult.

The listener’s anxiety or fear concerning his or her response to the client can also become a solid block in listening.Also when the listener is unduly anxious that his or her response to the speaker should be appropriate, the mind gets preoccupied with the formulation of a response. This obstacle occurs frequently in a counseling situation when the counselor is anxious that h/she should be able to win the confidence of the client and he/she should use the correct words. This can also occur with a counselor who is anxious about empathizing with the client who may be turning over in his/her mind the different words and ways of showing empathy, while the client is speaking. So instead of focusing  attention on the clients speech and, the listener counselor are focusing attention on how he/she should respond.And ultimately the client’s response may not necessarily suit the context.

There are a few guide lines which will help counselors to develop the habit of effective listening which will in turn help the counselor to accurately understand the problems the client is experiencing and the feelings.

1. The physical surroundings of the counseling can further or impede the counseling  process. The place should further the conversation. This means that the client must feel comfortable. To achieve this, make sure that you are not disturbed.Avoid people coming by, telephones ringing, or other people sitting or standing within earshot. Close your door, redirect your phone calls, and leave a “Do not disturb” sign on the door. Such things show the client that you are interested in him/her.

2. Remove barriers. A large table between you and the client can be a psychological as well as a physical barrier. It communicates: “I am your superior. The table is a symbol of my power, and I have the right to appraise you.” Tools for Counselling

3. Use the physical surroundings to create the climate you want. If you want a climate emphasizing the equality or symmetry of your relationship, make sure you are sitting at the same level as the client, without a table between you, right opposite each other.

4. Maintaining eye to eye contact with the client. It will help the counselor to direct his/her mental attention towards the client.

5. As a mental preparation for the interview with the client, the counselors should clear the mind of internal preoccupations, preconceived ideas or opinions about the client.Anxieties and apprehensions about the interviewmust be brought to the level of awareness and should resolve. If they cannot be resolved they should be consciously kept aside for the time being.

6. The ears should be tuned to listen to everything that the client says.Mental habits of dreaming and selective listening should be avoided.Agood counselor will be aware of healthy listening habits at all times, and continues to check whether this tool is helping the counselor in supporting the client in the most appropriate way.