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While you’ll soon learn that a certain amount of inaccurate listening is understandable, and sometimes even desirable, it’s important to be aware of these styles so that you can avoid them when understanding others is important to you.

 

1. Pseudo listening is an imitation of the real thing. Good pseudo listeners give the appearance of being attentive: they look you in the eye, nod and smile at the right times and even may answer occasionally. Some may use a polite facade to mask other thoughts, while others ignore you because there is something more important to them, or they may just be bored. Pseudo listening is counterfeit communication.

 

2. Stage-hogging. Stage-hogs are only interested in expressing their ideas and don’t care about what anyone else has to say. These people will only allow you to speak so that they can catch their breath. They aren’t really part of a conversation; they’re making a speech.

 

3. Selective listening. These listeners respond only to the parts of our remarks that interest them, rejecting everything else. We’re all selective listeners at times when we screen out TV commercials or when talking to a person who has a pet topic and only talks when the subject turns to their favorite subject.

 

4. Insulated listening is almost the opposite of selective listening. Instead of looking for something, they avoid it. Whenever a topic arises which they don’t want to deal with, they simply fail to hear. You remind them of a problem, unfinished job or the like, and they’ll nod or answer, then promptly forget what you’ve said.

 

5. Defensive listening is taking statements intended as innocent comments as personal attacks. Examples could be the teenager who hears her parents’ questions as snooping, the insecure breadwinner who explodes whenever his mate mentions money, or the parent who views any questioning by the child as a threat to authority and parental wisdom. These listeners are suffering from shaky public images and have a need to avoid admitting this by projecting insecurities onto others.

 

6. Ambushing. These listeners carefully listen to you but only because they’re collecting information that they’ll use to attack what you have to say. The prosecution attorney during a cross-examination is a good example of an ambusher. This strategy will justifiably initiate defensiveness on the other’s part.

 

7. Insensitive listening offers the final example of people who don’t receive another person’s messages clearly. People often don’t express their thoughts or feelings openly but, instead, through subtle and unconscious choices of words and/or nonverbal cues. Insensitive listeners aren’t able to look beyond words and behavior to understand their hidden meanings. Instead they take the speaker’s remarks at face value.

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Drakeford, John. (1967). The awesome power of the listening ear. Waco, Texas:  Word Books; Durham, Ken. (1986). Speaking from the heart. Ft. Worth, Texas:  Sweet Publishing Co., Inc.

Copyright 1993, El Rophe Center, Inc.

Are You a Non-Listener?

by Dr. Sidney Langston

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