When you listen, there are many things that can hinder or inhibit your listening ability. These barriers hinder your effective listening skill. WHAT ARE THOSE BARRIERS?

barriers of listening

In being able to listen effectively, some barriers can pose problems for the individual listener. They include the following: –

  • Physical
  • Auditory impairment
  • Psychological – emotional state and background
  • Cultural
  • Stereotyping
  • Perceptual fallacies – Cognitive dissonance, Cognitive error.

physical – The physical condition in the environment where listening is taking place do affect listening. Such conditions include noise, heat, odour, strangeness of the environment, over crowding and being in a hostile and strange company. Sometimes, what people wear distract listeners’ attention, so also is the physique of the person talking to you. The personality of the person talking to someone can also inhibit effective listening. For example, if the physical appearance of the speaker is intimidating and threatening, the listener does not listen effectively or he listens with trepidation.

auditory impairment- This reflects in deafness, semi-deafness and other ear problem, which affect listening a great deal. Sometimes, when people comprehend a word, another word is registered in their thoughts and what is heard is different from what they are supposed to hear.

psychological- The emotional state of person can be an inhibition to his listening. For example, a person who is sad does not comprehend anything because of the state of his mind. Also, a person who is exceedingly happy does not really hear because of the overwhelming joy or ecstasy. Someone’s background also affects what one hears and how it is heard. The personality of the individual, which may be reflected through voice and actions, are also barriers. Some people’s voice are heavy while some people are with bedroom type voice-that is talking silently or seem to be whispering. These types of voices affect listening a lot. The loud voice can be jarring to the ear while the whispering voice may lead to the listener not hearing what is said. Listening personality also differs. Some people listen in a totally involved manner while some do other things while listening. Some people look into people’s face while some people do not. Some people ask questions while listening others listen and repeat the last word that is said. All these varied personality profiles affect one’s listening ability.

cultural – someone’s culture can also inhibit one’s listening ability. One’s cultural values can be a hindrance towards effective listening. An Hausa man who is deeply religious will not give regards to ladies in trousers or wears that do not cover the body. If the lady is in trousers, he will have difficulty listening to her, that is if he listens at all. Cultural values can also exist in sub-cultures too. The inability to belong to the cultural or sub-cultural group also inhibits listening.

stereotyping – This is a process of adducing particular quality or characteristics to a person, a group of people, a race, movement or organisation. Stereotypes are created because of prejudices or biases. Such biases are developed as a result of the background, experiences and the beliefs of the person exhibiting the bias. Stereotypes inhibit effective listening in the sense that the bias or the prejudice blocks the listener from understanding what is being said or from listening to the speaker at all. This is the greatest problem in listening because the listener does not hear at all or the filters what he hears from the perspective of his biases, which in most cases are not logical, proven or reasonable.

perceptive fallacies – These are fallacies existing as a result of the way we perceive things. There are flaws or errors arising from the way we view life, individuals and our own positions. They include:

cognitive error – This is the belief that somebody knows what you want to say before you say it or that somebody should understand your view or thinking without you telling that person. When this kind of error exists, it does not lead to good interpersonal relationship. It also makes the relationship strained. It affects listening because the speaker may take the listener for granted or expect him to decipher what he is thinking while the listener cannot because he does not know or understand the speaker.

cognitive dissonance – This refers to the fault in which one thinks one has said everything that were needed to be said but has not done so. In listening, the individual thinks he has heard everything whereas he is wrong. This affects listening because when one looks at it, the individual who speaks will give incorrect information thereby making listening faulty because one has not heard everything, the fact that what he heard is incorrect and incomplete information will affect his responses, actions and understanding of what is said.



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