We choose not to listen

We listen to what we want to hear. Most of us will open our ears to information that only concurs with our beliefs and will refute information we don’t agree with. Because of confirmation bias, people will listen to those people whose views they already know are similar to their own.

Unfortunately a lack of agreement or harmony between two people will always play a role in how we choose to communicate. If we like someone, we’re more likely to want to listen to that person’s perspective. Although confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance make us more likely to reject certain observations, I think a new way of thinking is needed on the whole issue of listening.

We learn as a child right and wrong. It’s right to listen to what anyone has to say; it’s wrong to not to listen to people intently, just because we don’t agree with their views; we’re not keen on their views or on them.

If we’re really not keen on those we choose not to listen to, why are they in our lives and if they are in our lives why are we not listening?


2 Feb, 2015

6 thoughts on “We choose not to listen

  1. There is a huge difference between hearing and listening. There is an art to listening and I agree we do have a tendency to ‘hear’ only what we want to hear, for all the reasons you say.

    We have to make a concerted effort to listen and I’m sure relationships will be the better for it.

    1. You’re absolutely right. There is a huge difference between hearing and listening and unfortunately we’ve probably got into bad habits.

      I believe we all have the potential to hear and listen, but do it well. Unfortunately life and the issues we have to deal with get in the way.

  2. I remember reading a quote indicating that we usually listen to respond, when we should be listening to understand.

    Understanding doesn’t mean we agree with what is said; we just understand where they are coming from by showing compassion or simply respect.

    1. Thanks Maria. I agree with your quote and with your response. I’m not sure why but over the years it’s the way many of us seem to have chosen to respond.

      In the short term perhaps it’s easier that way, given what we sometimes have to deal with, but in the longer term responding in that way will always have repercussions.

  3. I agree with you on this, but also think there is a difference between listening and hearing.

    Listening to me means understanding. I ask my son a lot if he is listening or understanding me. I think sometimes he just hears me and doesn’t understand what I’m saying, because he isn’t really listening.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I agree with you, there is a difference between listening and hearing and as long as we’re interested in listening we will always have the understanding.

      The problem arises when we can’t be bothered to listen because we have little interest in what that person says, so we’re neither listening or understanding.

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