Good listening is arguably one of the most important skills to have in today's complex world. Families need good listening to face complicated stresses together. Corporate employees need it to solve complex problems quickly and stay competitive. Students need it to understand complex issues in their fields. Much can be gained by improving listening skills.
Eight barriers to effective listening
Most of us are terrible listeners. We're such poor listeners, in fact, that we don't know how much we're missing. The following are eight common barriers to good listening, with suggestions for overcoming each.
#1 - Knowing the answer
"Knowing the answer" means that you think you already know what the speaker wants to say, before she actually finishes saying it. You might then impatiently cut her off or try to complete the sentence for her.
Even more disruptive is interrupting her by saying that you disagree with her, but without letting her finish saying what it is that you think you disagree with. That's a common problem when a discussion gets heated, and which causes the discussion to degrade quickly.
By interrupting the speaker before letting her finish, you're essentially saying that you don't value what she's saying. Showing respect to the speaker is a crucial element of good listening.
The "knowing the answer" barrier also causes the listener to pre-judge what the speaker is saying -- a kind of closed-mindedness.
A good listener tries to keep an open, receptive mind. He looks for opportunities to stretch his mind when listening, and to acquire new ideas or insights, rather than reinforcing existing points of view.
Strategy for overcoming this barrier
A simple strategy for overcoming the "knowing the answer" barrier is to wait