10 Irritating Listening Habits

Underlying Causes of Poor Listening Habits

In interpersonal communication, talking to someone who has great listening skills can be satisfying. On the other hand, talking to someone who has poor listening skills, can be frustrating and leave us feeling disconnected and discontent.

Some poor listening habits are fairly common and quite obvious to the speaker. The International Listening Association Opens in new window has outlined a list of the 10 most irritating listening habits.

If you were to make a list of your own, it would probably look similar to theirs. Their list includes the following:

  1. Interrupting the speaker
  2. Not looking at the speaker
  3. Rushing the speaker
  4. Showing interest in something else
  5. Finishing the speaker’s thoughts
  6. Not responding to requests
  7. Saying, “Yes, but ...”
  8. Topping the speaker’s story
  9. Forgetting what was talked about
  10. Asking too many questions

Most of these irritating habits result from one of two underlying causes. The first is listeners who are focused on their own agenda and what they want to say rather than on the speaker. When listeners are thinking about their turn to talk rather than thinking about the speaker’s concerns, they tend to do things such as interrupt, rush the speaker, finish the speaker’s thoughts, and top the speaker’s story.

The second cause of poor listening habits is simply a listener who isn’t paying attention. Other forms of poor listening habits are discussed in brief below:

Beside poor listening habits, there are other barriers that have an equally negative effect on our ability to listen well. The general term used to describe anything that interferes with the communication process is noise.

With respect to listening, noiseOpens in new window refers not only to loud sounds, but to anything that distracts us from listening. We call such interferences listening barriersOpens in new window. This is discussed at length hereOpens in new window.