Why Listening is Difficult

It’s often been said that humans have two ears and one mouth in order to listen twice as much as we speak.  Interestingly, almost all research points to the veracity of this statement.   

Related: Listening: Our Most Used Communications Skill | MU Extension 

We do listen much more than we speak. Yet, it is rare to find an institution of learning from  K – 12 and beyond that provides any programs or even classes in listening.  This truism is a national shame for those who design curriculum. 

To help strengthen the listening skills of anyone who reads these words, I suggest that the greatest obstacle to effective listening is “unconscious bias.”  That is the bias that we all harbor and express without even thinking of it.

Having biases is not a bad thing.  The inability to recognize or control them is a bad thing.  The keyword here is “unconscious.”  Those are the biases that we all have so deeply secured in our minds that we are not consciously aware of them and how they impede our ability to listen.  These biases will differ for each person, but we all have them.  They may be as subtle as the bias toward a flavor of ice cream, the color of a car, the type of shoes you wear.  They may be as critical as biases around gender, race, religion, nationality, and many more. 

I’m not suggesting that a bias of any kind is good or bad. I am suggesting that if you are not aware of and in control of your biases, they will interfere with your ability to listen effectively.  A worthy skill to pursue is to move your “unconscious biases”  into a position of “conscious bias” to prevent them from obstructing your ability to understand and participate in communication with others. How you move from “unconscious” to “conscious” is fodder for another conversation. 

Spread the love


Similar posts

“84% of employees expect this job perk—but most executives think it’s a ‘waste of time’”

Can you guess what it is? Answer: Eighty-four percent of employees expect their employer to provide the training and education they need to stay up-to-date with changing skills in their industry, according to a recent survey of more than 800 C-suite executives and 800 employees from online learning platform edX. But senior managers aren’t seeing that way according to an article in CNBC by Ece Yildirim. The article shares that employees value their career development

Spread the love

Artificial Intelligence is Fake

Now, before you jump to conclusions, allow me to be clear with a few definitions and thoughts. The growing nervousness and fear that AI will take over our educational systems and produce future generations of bot brains and wobbly children is ridiculous. That is just the start of the pervasive concerns that writers and artists fear about losing their jobs. Let’s not even start with the apprehension that educators face about their societal roles. One needs only to

Spread the love

Why Do They Say “Look”?

Have you noticed how many times a political candidate or commentator will say the word “look”? Why do they say that? Well, let us zoom the picture back a little and think about this. Linguists and psychologists have introduced us to what they refer to as “representational systems.” They tell us that people are prone to expressing their feelings, attitudes, opinions, and using one of three ‘representational systems.’ They have named these to be Visual,

Spread the love


Tell us what’s on your mind: