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Here are six bad habits that will help you find out!

Are you a competitive listener?

2023 August 02 | by Arduino Mancini Effective communication

I think we can share the idea that listening is an essential function of communication that multimedia has substantially damaged, because we are systematically urged to devote attention to more than one thing at the same time.

Is this all the smartphone’s fault?

Absolutely not, because long-standing habits affect listening skills perhaps more profoundly than a multimedia tool.

Don’t you believe this? You’ll change your mind after I tell you about competitive listening.

We can define competitive listening as that

attitude that leads me to place myself in a competitive position
with the interlocutor, shifting attention to me and reducing
or even cancelling the attention I pay to the conversation content.

Competitive listening has, in my experience, several different occurrences:

  1. I know my interlocutor is about to say something I don’t like, so I interrupt him before he finishes to make him change his position;
  2. I come up with a solution to the issue under discussion (something like “finish up, then I’ll tell you“). Then, for reasons of time or (more frequently) impatience, I propose the solution right away: so, I can avoid a set of useless talk…;
  3. I am reminded of a personal episode, evidently more interesting than the one I am (not) listening to, and I begin to talk about it regardless that my interlocutor has not finished yet;
  4. I disagree with what he says, or what I think he is about to say (since I insist on not allowing him to finish…), and I express disagreement by interrupting. Because the real goal is not to communicate, but to be right;
  5. I perceive a criticism aimed at me and decide to defend myself by explaining my position. In short, I get touchy;
  6. I make comparisons between him and myself. Yes because, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have done such nonsense as the one he is confessing to (can one be more stupid?).

At the root of competitive listening is the desire to feel better than others, the hurry, the fear of being attacked, and the will to occupy the middle stage always and in any case.

And if you have read all six points above, you have also realized that my attempt to turn the interlocutor into a spectator has failed, because he has soon lost the will to listen to me.

Basically, I was left alone talking to myself: and I’m not even sure I realized it.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

PS: If your answer is yes, don’t take it too hard and work on it. There are people who, to overcome certain bad habits, even set up as coaches… (guess who?!)


Want to improve your communication ability? The eLearning course Improve your listening skills will help you.

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