4 irrelevant causes of poor listening
Before going on to explain the various causes of poor listening, let’s take a look at what listening is exactly.
What is listening
Listening is a basic skill like speaking, while reading and writing are secondary. That listening is not often formally taught is a weakness in our regular school curricula. A basic difference exists between hearing and listening. One is a passive skill while the other is a deliberate art.
As long as the auditory organs (ears) are effective, you will pick up and hear all the sounds around you – sounds of other lectures going on, students shouting, cars hooting, children playing, birds singing, and so on. Your ears pick up both useful language sounds as well as useless non-linguistic sounds.
Listening is concentrated hearing. It is deliberate paying attention to the immediate sounds of teaching going on in your particular class so that you make communicative meaning out of what is being taught. Listening is therefore selective; it is a discriminating art. Not listening is not the same as not hearing.
Listening involves paying close attention to and making sense out of what we here; it means absorbing vital information from what is said and doing so quickly and accurately.
Listening can be learned. To begin, you have to know the causes of poor listening. The main causes of poor listening are:
- Poor concentration
- Listening too hard
- Jumping to conclusions
- Focusing on delivery and personal appearance
These 4 causes of poor listening are explained in details below.
4 irrelevant causes of poor listening
The main causes of poor concentration could be mental, physical and/or environmental distractions. If you let your mind wander off to other areas outside teaching, you will likely lose track of what the lecturer is saying. A common situation that could embarrass a student is where the teacher knows he/she is not paying attention and ask him/her a question about what he said last. You could be distracted by ill-health, tiredness, stuffiness or heat in the classroom, heavy rains etc. Insufficient concentration leads to insufficient information gathering.
Listening too hard
While it is easy to be distracted and lose track of our thoughts, at times we just tend to listen too hard. We tend to concentrate on every word that is spoken as if everything is equally important. We try to remember and note down all the details of names, places, dates, and so on. In the process, we may miss the important points or mix them up with unimportant ones. We may get confused. You do not have to listen to everything your lecturer says. You should concentrate on the main ideas or key points.
Jumping to conclusions
Jumping to conclusion involves wrongly anticipating what the speaker wants to say and not letting him/her finish before you write what you think he/she “wants to say” or interrupting his/her speech before he/she comes to an end. In face to face situation, this poor anticipation could cause embarrassment when you find out you really did not know what the speaker wants to say. Jumping to conclusions results in a breakdown in communication. The solution is to listen to your lecturer by not putting words in his mouth.
Focusing on delivery and personal appearance
Some students tend to pay too much attention to the physical appearances of their lecturers. If they are impressed, they pay attention. If they are not, they blank out. You often hear some students say “ I don’t like Dr X lectures”. If you persist to know why you might be told that “he dresses shabbily” or “he doesn’t know how to talk”. Some students are so put off by personal appearances, regional accents, speech defects and unusual vocal mannerisms that they do not bother to listen. This is a serious communication problem and should be guarded against.
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