This is nice from PsychCentral. Are you a ‘lousy listener’? I do know that you can’t talk and listen at the same time. My former assistant manager – late Jonathan Lungu – and I used to prove it to the Chanters Girls when we realised they weren’t listening because they were talking too much. We’d both start talking at the same time – about anything – in front of them, and then question each other afterwards as to what the other had been saying. Neither of us had a clue!
Anyway, according to PsychCentral, Lousy Listeners:
1. Attend to other things when you are speaking.
Proud of their ability to multitask, they continue to scan the newspaper, text, or clean their desk while being addressed. An occasional ‘uh-huh’ is supposed to cue you that, really, they are with you. They’re not — or at least not totally. Their mind is distracted. Chances are they miss important pieces of your message — even if they protest that they don’t.
2. Are planning how they will respond even while you are speaking.
They are so busy rehearsing their reply that they miss part of your message and don’t catch the nuances of your communication. They’re ready with a paragraph before you’ve even completed a sentence.
3. Steal the ball.
You say something like, “I can hardly wait to tell you about my trip to the Grand Canyon.” Before you get the last word out, they start: “The Grand Canyon? I was there once. Let me tell you. It was so interesting. We went on this and did that and this and that happened. And we met these wonderful people at the dude ranch we stayed at.” They are off and running with their description of their own experience. You are left to hold your story for another day – if you get the chance then either.
4. Change the subject before you are ready to do so.
Maybe you’re talking about something sensitive between you or maybe the topic is just more meaningful to you. Either because they aren’t interested or because you are making them nervous, they steer the conversation to something that interests them more or that makes them feel safer. You say, “I’d love to go see such and such a concert.” They say, “Sunday night is football night.”
5. Hurry you along.
As you talk, they get restless. They might say, “Uh-huh, Uh-huh, uh-huh” or look at their watch or scan the surroundings or fidget. You run out of interest in communicating with them because they’ve let you know that they’ve run out of patience with listening to you.
6. Have lousy nonverbal skills.
They don’t look like they are paying attention. They don’t give much in the way of positive feedback like a nod or a smile. They slouch. They turn away. Their eyes glaze over. Talking to a lousy listener is like talking to a post for all the affirmation you get.
7. Tend to see criticism or blame in the most innocent of discussions.
Their defense is to be critical and judgmental. While you are talking, they are busy developing critiques of what you said or how you said it. They use sarcasm, “jokes,” and anger to derail any hint that you may be suggesting the need for them to change something about themselves or about how they are doing something. Communicating with them is so unpleasant you avoid it as much as you can.
8. Are quick to offer advice, even when it hasn’t been asked for.
They don’t take the time to listen to the whole story or to offer quiet support. Often they mean well. They really do want to help. But they don’t understand that their help isn’t always helpful; that sometimes what you want is simply to be heard and understood or given a vote of confidence that you can solve your own problems.
There you are then, food for thought!