Today I want to look at issues in relationships in relation to forms of non- listening. Within this concept I also want to recognize the various forms of non-listening.
Non-listening according to Wood (2007) is called this because it simply does not involve real listening. There are six various types that most people engage in at least one point or other in their life. The six types of non-listening include: pseudolistening, monopolizing, selective listening, defensive listening, ambushing, and literal listening. All of these types of non-listening differ. They are all exceptionally important for us to understand so we can avoid using these tactics. To understand these styles will also allow us to realize if they are being used on us. Pseudolistening is simply pretending to listen. We pretend to be attentive, but our minds are elsewhere. The reasons we typically use pseudolistening is because we are bored or are too lost in the conversation already. The next type of non-listening is monopolizing. Monopolizing is continuously focusing communication on ourselves instead of listening to the person who is talking. This form of non-listening always tries to steer the attention from the speaker to the listener, in turn causing no listening on the listeners behalf, until they find their window for them to cut in. Similar to monopolizing, the next type is selective listening. Selective listening involves focusing only on particular parts of communication. This refers to listening to the only things that interest you. The next style us defensive listening. Defensive listening perceives personal attacks, criticism, or hostility in communication that is not critical or mean-spirited. When defensive listening is occurring we as the listener believe that the speaker is attacking us or that they do not trust us, or there is some other underlying hostility in the speaker’s message. Ambushing is listening carefully for the purpose of attacking a speaker. This is like the opposite of defensive listening, instead of the speaker attacking us; we are looking for certain words or tones to turn around on the speaker and the message. The last style is literal listening, and literal listening involves listening only for content and ignoring the relationship level of meaning. Literal listening does not give a conversation any depth it just relates back to the message and not the thoughts behind the message.
So the other day Chrissy was talking to her friend from home, Ashley. She wanted to talk to her about her relationship issues. Now Ashley is a talker, and has more of a hard time listening because she is used to being the one that is getting listened to. Chrissy was hesitant to talk to Ashley about her issues because of this reason, but wanted to try just in case. One thing Chrissy brought up in conversation was that her boyfriend never seems to want to spend time with Chrissy when she is with her girlfriends. Ashley responded by saying “Well some of your friends at school are kind of hard to be around.” Chrissy took that with a grain of salt and then told her another concern about PDA and how she does not like to show it but her boyfriend does. Ashley came back and said “What is PDA again?” Chrissy wanted to give her one more chance so she said “My last concern is that my boyfriend might drink too much.” In full demand Ashley came back to say “Well yeah my boyfriend drinks a lot, too…” and after this she never stopped talking about herself.
According to Simon (2009) “The tactic of selective attention goes hand in hand with the inattentional thinking patterns. They almost always know what you’re about to say before you actually say it. And, they almost immediately start tuning you out. So, when they start tuning you out, you have absolute assurance they have no intention of changing course.” This research shows that selective listening is a problem and that it happens immediately in a conversation and you are tuned out the rest of the time. In my example with Chrissy and Ashley, Ashley used selective listening throughout the entire conversation by taking out parts that she wanted to hear. She asked questions that were irrelevant, as well as using monopolizing to make everything about herself as usual. I think it is hard for Ashley to understand that she has a problem with not listening and it is hard for Chrissy and other friends to express to her these feelings. Ashley uses too many forms of non-listening and it is going to turn into no one wanting to talk to her, because there is an unfair exchange between talking and listening. The only way you could manage the issue would be to express all of these feelings to her. Then she would have to educate herself on all of these forms of non-listening she uses and she would have to figure out how to change her ways, or she will be left in the dark with no friends to talk to or listen to her anymore.
Simon, G. (2009). Selective Listening and Attention: Hearing What You Want to Hear as a Manipulation Tactic. Psychology, Philosophy and Real Life.