Barriers to Effective Listening

Barriers to Effective Listening act as hurdles that not just interrupt the entire communication process but also create misunderstanding and chaos. It would be wrong to say that communication is the sole responsibility of the speaker. No matter how effectively the message is delivered, if the speaker is not listening or paying full attention to the message it would be a sheer waste of time and effort.

In the absence of cooperation and active participation from the listener’s side, effective listening won’t be possible.

Barriers to Effective Listening


Hearing Problems

When the listener of the message is suffering from hearing deficiency, it interrupts the listening process. It is to be noted that it has to be physiological and unintentional. So, listening impairment due to defective listening, and medical help could be sought.

Chain of thoughts

Our mind is always active and certain thoughts always capture it, thinking multiple thoughts at a time. Such thoughts may be rapid and even loud, from time to time, which often mars the receptivity of the listener.

Heavy message

Use of technical words and jargon or over-compression of thoughts, often makes the message unnecessarily heavy for the listener.

Accented talk

When the speaker speaks too fast or in a particular accent, which is difficult to understand for the listener, also disrupts communication. With that in mind, for regular listeners, or those who are familiar with the accent, listening is easy. But for others, it is a bit difficult to get the message clearly.

Listener’s prejudice

The receptive attitude of the listener is absent when he puts himself before the speaker. the listener perceives that he knows everything and has very little respect for the speaker. Plus, the listener may be having prejudices against the listener or against the subject matter of concern. In this way, hindrance in listening takes place.

Misunderstanding about listener’s role

There are instances when listeners are not aware of their role in the given situation and so they think that it is the duty of the speaker to explain everything to them.

Cultural Gap

The difference in the cultural habits of the listener also makes the listening incomplete. The listener may give more importance or meaning to any word or phrase which is not actually meant that way.


When people listen while doing something else such as eating, drinking, cleaning, reading or writing, cooking, or anything else. This tends to divide the attention of the listener.


when the listener of the message is of the opinion that he is superior and is not ready for listening to anything, this amounts to the ego. This also mars the entire listening process.

Tips for Effective Listening

There are a number of tips that can help in overcoming the barriers to effective listening. These are:

Basic Tips

  1. One should position himself mentally. This means if you are doing something like talking or cooking stop doing it. In this way, you can listen to the message properly.
  2. Speaker requires emotional encouragement. Therefore, when he or she is speaking, always show an openness to what the speaker is speaking with a positive attitude. Show that you have interest and willingness to listen. The listener can do so by simple signs like a smile, head nod or eye contact, etc.
  3. The mental attitude should be tuned to the subject and the message too, even when it is a surprise or something that you haven’t heard previously. Always be receptive and positive towards the message delivered.
  4. One should be patient enough to let the speaker tell you the entire story. The speaker may be unorganized or lacks the correct words to deliver the message, which needs a patient response.
  5. While someone is speaking, do not interrupt him/her in the middle. This is because it may break the speaker’s chain of thought or the way he has decided to deliver the message. It is always better to listen to the message even when you know it.

More tips

  1. Don’t just show that you are listening, concentrate with effort. If some background music is playing, the listener should switch his/her attention towards the discussion going on.
  2. When the listener is rude or angry, the important message may not be conveyed. Generosity and politeness are the two qualities that can overcome anger.
  3. An individual listener should smile when required, to appreciate and encourage the speaker. In fact, if you are a part of a mass audience, you should cheer the speaker.
  4. Asking questions also facilitates the listener, to direct the message in the way he wants. This also helps in organizing the message.

Wrap Up

If you want listening to be successful, it is pertinent to remove the listening barriers, be it physical, psychological, or physiological.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *