The faults/pitfalls/Barriers of listening


Listening is a very important aspect of oral communication. If there is any lacking or fault in listening, it might cause failure to communication process. So, people should be well aware faults in listening so as to improve the overall communication ability. These faults are enumerated as under:

  1. Prejudice against the
  2. External
  3. Thinking
  4. Premature
  5. Semantic
  6. Delivery of
  7. language
  8. sluggishness.

The explanation of above mentioned points is as under:

1.   Prejudice against the speaker:-

Sometimes the speaker conflicts with our attitude. The summary of these conflicts is as follows:

  • Personality of the Speaker:- If the speaker is not liked by the listener, the listener may not pay attention to listening. For example a business person might not listen to his rival because he is biased with the personality of that rival.
  • Thoughts of speaker:- If the thoughts of speaker are in contrast with the listener’s thoughts the listening process could be damaged.

2.   External Distraction:-

External environment affects listening a lot. Noisy fans, poor light, distracting background music, overheated or cold room, poor ventilation and many other things distract a listener’s attention from the speaker’s message.

3.   Thinking speed:-

On average, most of us speak between 80 and 160 words per minute. Whereas, people have the ability to think at the rate of up to 800 words per minute. Despite this fact, the listener may have slower thinking process due to the following reasons:

  • Competition of concentration:- The listener could not concentrate on the message because he has many things to think besides listening to the message.
  • Doing some other activity:- The listener might be involved in doing some other activity.

4.   Premature evaluation::-

When the listener starts evaluating the message during the process of listening, he/she is not attentive enough to the message. This is another fault of listening.

5.   Semantic stereotype:-

There are many topics to which the listener has emotional and psychological belongingness. So, the topic and issues which hurt his feelings are not absorbed by him easily.

6.   Delivery of speech:-

A monotone can easily put the listener to sleep or cause him to lose the interest.

7.   Language:-

Another fault of listening is the language. If the speaker using such words, idioms, or structure of language with which the listener is not familiar, the speaker will face difficulties in conveying his message.

8.   Sluggishness:-

If the listener is mentally or physically tired, or habitually lazy, he would feel difficulty in listening to the message.

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