Yesterday’s Day 6 Listening Diet lesson focused on the #1 reason we don’t listen: the Speech-Thought Gap. I discussed the excess brain capacity we have when we’re listening to someone speaking, and how that excess capacity – if not focused – can lead to thinking about many things besides what the speaker is saying. Today’s Listening Diet lesson offers a large helping of the many ways our brain can distract us from pure listening.
Did you use the worksheet to track your mind chatter and identify a few Listening Blocks at work or home? Listening Blocks are thoughts, actions, or distractions that get in the way of our ability to listen. Some are within our control, and some aren’t.
The Listening Blocks we can control offer us opportunity for improvement, Listening Breakthroughs, and avoided costs and stress. As with replacing any habit, identifying what triggers bad listening routines is an early step in knowing what to look out for. When we notice that we are confronted with a Listening Block, we have the choice to refocus – or not (more on that in tomorrow’s lesson).
The Listening Blocks we cannot control might be an unexpected noise, emergency, time limit, or other current commitment. We can work to minimize the likelihood of a Listening Block showing up in a conversation – but they can’t all be controlled.
Whether we can control them or not, Listening Blocks have the impact of us tuning out – momentarily or permanently – from what a speaker is saying.
Yesterday”s lesson had a worksheet to track your Listening Blocks, and today I share a long list of Listening Blocks that can come up for people at different times. Here is just a partial list of 150+ Listening Blocks available in today’s download:
- Worries about the Past
- Anxiety about the Future
- Wanting to be Listened to First
- The Speaker’s Words Remind You of Something Else
Each of the categories above have many associated Listening Blocks. Confusion, for example, can come from any of the following:
- Having an Unanswered Question
- Facts aren’t understood
- Emotions aren’t understood
- Deeper Reason for Emotion isn’t Understood
- What the Speaker Wants isn’t Understood
- Uncertainty about the Purpose of the Conversation
- Suspicion/Confusion about Motives
Of course, the Speech-Thought Gap is letting our mind chatter wander, causing these potential Listening Blocks:
- The Thought You Want to Say!
- Desire / Feeling Need to Interject
- Our Own Goals for the Conversation
- Desire to Correct a Speaker’s Incorrect Statement
- “Need” to React
- “Need” to Respond
- “Need” to Be Right
Our senses cause distractions as well:
- Radio / Audio
- Cell Phone
- Seeing Something Unexpected or Distracting
- Hearing Something Unexpected or Distracting
- Smelling Something Unexpected or Distracting
- Feeling/Touching Something Unexpected or Distracting
And, our physical wellness, mental state, and sobriety can impact listening:
- Not Feeling Well
- Drugs – Prescribed or Not
- Mental Illness
Our brain is wired to create assumptions and judgements that lead to Listening Blocks:
- Stereotyping the Speaker and/or Situation
- Already “Knowing” There’s Not Much at Stake in Conversation
- Fear of Being Persuaded
- Fear of Being Proven Wrong
- Afraid Listening will be Misperceived as Agreement
- Your Own Judgments of the Speaker
- The Speaker’s race
- The Speaker’s religion
- The Speaker’s politics
- The Speaker’s level of income
- The Speaker’s dress
- The Speaker’s accent
If the discussion creates agreement or disagreement, watch out for these Listening Blocks:
- Disagreeing with Speaker’s Points or Approach
- Agreeing too Closely with the Speaker and Assuming You Agree
- Current Argument
- Past Argument
When we have an interpersonal issue with the speaker, our listening can shut down.
- Previous Disagreement or Conflict (Real or Perceived, Resolved or not)
- Worries about Finances / Cost
- Wanting an Apology
- Needing to GIVE an Apology
- Wanting Forgiveness
- Needing to Forgive Someone Else / Not Ready to Forgive
Oh, and then we have those pesky emotions that can lead to Listening Blocks:
- Fear → feeling afraid. Other words are terror (strong fear), shock, phobia
- Anger → feeling angry. A stronger word is rage.
- Sadness → feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief (a stronger feeling, for example when someone has died) or depression (feeling sad for a long time). Some people think depression is a different emotion.
- Joy → feeling happy. Other words are happiness, gladness.
- Disgust → feeling something is wrong or dirty
- Trust → a positive emotion; admiration is stronger; acceptance is weaker
- Anticipation → in the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen. Expectation is more neutral.
- Surprise → how one feels when something unexpected happens
- Enmity (feeling hate)
- Shame how one feels about one’s past bad actions or thoughts
- Shamelessness one does not feel shame, but others think one should.)
- Pity (when people feel sorry for other people)
- Indignation (feeling angry because something is not fair, such as undeserved bad fortune)
- Envy / Jealousy (pain when people have something that one wishes for oneself)
- Feeling Attacked
- Feeling Defensiveness
- Feeling Judged
How about the speaker’s nonverbal communications? Those can be distracting as well:
- Movement (Walking, Swaying)
- Objects / Props
- Mode of Communication / Technology
- Eye Contact
- Facial Expressions
The list above is just a partial list of potential Listening Blocks. The download for today’s Listening Diet Challenge is a PDF that lists over 150 Listening Blocks. Review the list. It may make you realize Listening Blocks that are present for you – or others!
Remember, those enrolled will get all 31 worksheets, resources, and practice assignments for just $1/day!
Enroll in The Listening Diet Challenge!
And, members of The Listening Corps already have all of this information available to them when they enroll into that international leadership development network. The Listening Corps focuses on just on listening skills but also on leadership and facilitation skills. Find out more at ListeningCorps.com.
Preview for Tomorrow
In Day 8, I’ll put the first 7 lessons together and offer you a simple, 4-step process to overcome Listening Blocks on a consistent basis.
Thanks for listening!