Listening Barriers

Listening Barriers

This article discusses some important listening barriers. These barriers are discussed below:

Poor Listening

If one’s sense of hearing is faulty, listening is damaged. Thus one cannot listen effectively if there some problems with this hearing capacity.

Listener’s chain of Thoughts

The mind is almost always active, thinking its own thoughts. These may become fast and loud from time to time, thus spoil one’s receptivity.

A too heavy message

The use of jargon or complex ideas may make an oral message too heavy for the listener to understand.

Rapid or Accented talk

One has this experience when listening for the first time to certain foreign radio stations. While the broadcast is clear to the regular listeners and those at home with the speakers’ accent, for others there is a bar to listening.

Listener’s self-importance or Prejudice

If the listener has put him/herself above the speaker, then there is no receptive attitude. Therefore, there is a “know-all” air in the listener and little regard for the speaker. Also, if the listener has a prejudice against the speaker, or has prejudices on the topic of the message, the listening is hindered.

Listening Barriers
listening barriers

Misunderstanding about the role of a listener

Some listeners may not be aware of what their role in a particular situation is. They may think that it is the speaker’s responsibility to explain everything properly. So they may belittle their own role as that of a one-way receiver. Also, they may think that the role of the speaker gives the other party overriding importance.

Cultural Gap

If the speaker and the listener have different cultural habits, then listening may be incomplete. The listener may assign different importance to a word or phrase that is meant. While Orientals are used to an elaborate style of addressing a gathering, westerners are often quite brief about it. But this can be distracting to an easterner.


Some people listen to while eating, drinking or doing handwork. Consequently, attention is divided. A busy manager, for instance, may try to listen while filing papers or opening the mail. This may mar the listening.


This is perhaps the most important of the barriers to effective listening. If the receivers consider themselves superior and are not willing to listen, then listening will not be effective. Therefore this ego problem acts as a stumbling block in the listening process.

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