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Common Misconceptions on Truly Listening

No one likes to be scolded, "You're not listening!" To better understand this skill of listening, let's explore some common fallacies.

"I'm a good listener because I always get the facts and figures straight."

It sounds like you may be a selective listener. You listen for the facts and figures, but don't hear or comprehend the rest of the information, such as questions that are raised, emotions of the speaker, context, opinions and ideas discussed.

"I'm a good listener because I never interrupt when someone is speaking."

A good listener does interrupt if the information provided by the speaker is unclear. Just as you need to be an inquisitive reader, you also need to be an inquisitive listener to be an effective listener.

"I'm a good listener because I pay attention to what I hear."

Being able to concentrate or pay attention to a speaker does not necessarily make you a good listener -- unless you can also assimilate, understand and respond to the information being given.

"I'm able to learn a lot by listening to audio tapes while I drive."

When listening to tapes while driving, your primary focus or attention should be on driving safely. Secondarily, you are listening to the tape. Your attention is split between dodging traffic and trying to listen. Good listeners generally concentrate on a single focus -- listening.

"I can hear. Therefore, I can be an effective listener."

Hearing is the first step in the process of communicating information. Once you hear the information, you must be able to understand it, question it, interpret it and respond to it. A good listener does more than just hear.