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Effective Communication: 6 Blocks to Listening Well Pt. 2

Over the last two articles, we have been exploring together what makes communication most effective. Last article I introduced the concept of listening blocks. You know, those sneaky things that get in the way of our truly hearing someone out. Whether it be family, friends, our boss, our coworkers, or significant others, or just other people in general that we meet. These listening blocks interrupt and disrupt genuine understanding and connection with others. Last article we introduced six blocks to listening well that interfere with our ability to effectively communicate with others. Do you remember what the six were? If not, pause just a second and click here for last week's article. If yes, good. Then read on. I have six more for you to consider.

Listening Block #7- Identifying

We all want to feel heard and understood. Knowing this, self-aware persons tend to try to communicate back this sense of "I get you," to others by sharing a similar experience that happened to us personally. It is a way for us to find common ground so to speak by sharing ways in which we can identify with their experience. Out of our strong desire to genuinely connect, we unfortunately take control of the conversation making it more about us and less about the other person which tends to have the opposite effect to making them feel heard. Inadvertently, instead of them seeing us as compassionate and understanding, it may lead the other person to feel that we are self-absorbed.

Listening Block #8- Advising

I am guilty. I am guilty. I am guilty. This communication block is one I endeavor to clean up within the context of my personal relationships. I find it interesting that in the context of my coaching and therapy, I know never ever give advice. But with my personal relationships, I tend to let my guard down. A lot. Too much. This is a block to effective communication because even though it stems from love and a desire to help, it rarely has that intended effect. Sometimes, people just want to be heard. No lecture. No advice. Just heard.

Listening Block #9- Arguing

In another life, you could have been a lawyer. Has anyone ever said that or something similar to you? Do you find that when it is a topic that you are well-versed in, you have a tendency to not shy away from a good debate? Listen, I get that. Some of us have passionate viewpoints and beliefs, maybe even some we can back up statistically or through historical context. Unfortunately, always being ready for a good debate can actually make it difficult to sustain genuine connections with others. The incessant need to argue our viewpoint communicates to others that we are not open to understanding their point of view or what they have to say. And it is downright tiresome; no one wants to feel like they are in a courtroom each and every time they open their mouths to engage in conversation with you. Which leads to the next block to listening well...

Listening Block #10- Being right

Do you want to be right or be loved? I saw this caption on Facebook not too long ago and it fits well here. Being right is a block to listening well because the priority is being right not connecting with others. When we focus on being right, we shift away from finding common ground and mutual understanding. It creates defensiveness and limits exchange of ideas, collaboration, and meaningful dialogue.

Listening Block #11- Derailing

This block to listening well can happen inadvertently or intentionally. In either case, the topic of conversation is shifted a new subject. Some people fall trap to this due to lack of focus. Others due to making an attempt to avoid criticism or talking about something that makes them anxious or upset. Derailing can look like making jokes or distracting comments. This block disrupts the flow of conversation and productive dialogue thus making others feel unheard and their concerns ignored.

Listening Block #12- Placating

This final block to listening well is like the extreme opposite of arguing and focusing on being right. So rather than argue or try to be right, this person just agrees. It's rare to find a person who doesn't want to be liked. Or at the very least respected. Those who placate may feel that they are strengthening their bonds and relationships, but the reverse is actually true. Placating focuses on appeasement and there is never any genuine understanding or resolution. The placater's needs are never met and they can never fully be authentic or honest. Placating disrupts opportunities for genuine discussion, learning, and growth. Over time, the relationship actually weakens.

What Are Your Most Common Communication Blocks?

  • Identifying

  • Advising

  • Arguing

  • Being right

You can vote for more than one answer.

There you have it. Our final six blocks to listening well. If you were able to escape last week's list, how did you fare this week? Please feel free to vote in our poll which of the six blocks you find yourself guilty of. Were there any surprises for you? Please feel free to share in the comment section below. Missed last week's poll? Not a problem. Click here to vote in last week's poll.

Listening blocks are things that can trap us all from time to time, with or without our conscious awareness of it. None of us want to be thought of as poor listeners so overcoming listening blocks is something we can all work towards. Listening is a skill. We have to nurture that skill by raising our level of awareness to the things that get in the way of clear and effective communication. Take some time over the next week to identify your primary listening blocks as well as the situations and people most likely to evoke your listening blocks. Having awareness of this can assist you with developing your strategy to overcome them and thus lead to more interesting, satisfying, and meaningful interactions with others. And please remember, as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.

"One of the greatest problems of our time is that many are schooled, but few are educated." ~Thomas More


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