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Published on June 5, 2023

4 Things That Can Get In the Way of Listening Well to Others and How to Resolve Them 

Effective communication, building relationships, and promoting learning are some benefits of listening. Problem-solving, conflict resolution, leadership, and empathy can only be achieved when listening is at its best.

Attentive listening will allow people to understand each other better. It’s where trust is built. Some would say that knowledge is gained through considering different perspectives from what’s heard. It’s linked to emotions and interactions that create meaningful connections. 

Listening is a must-have skill across industries. For instance, a contract research organization (CRO) that conducts a clinical research study must have personnel who listen to subjects’ complaints and experiences intently. That way, they can come up with accurate analyses for the success of the clinical study. The same is true for lawyers who handle criminal cases and real estate professionals who want to close deals quickly. For this reason, attentive listening must be learned in the early childhood years.

Improving your listening skills contributes to personal and professional growth. But how do you resolve issues if you’re hindered from correctly hearing people out?

Some Listening Problems And How You Can Resolve Them

Physical Impediments 

Many people today struggle to hear well due to many factors affecting their ears or sense of hearing. Damage to the ear, like ruptured eardrums and other illnesses, affects one’s hearing ability. It may have started from a simple children’s game of shouting to their friend’s ears or constant exposure to uncontrollable noise. 

Though it may sometimes be caused by uncontrollable factors like age, genetics, and infections, some are human-induced causes that result in the inability to hear what’s being said accurately. This inability to listen well may result in incompetence at work or in your personal activities. It’s best to find the best solution to your physical predicament. 

Hearing Research’s website can help you identify and understand the causes of your hearing problems. Understanding the nature of your hearing issues will help you and your medical professional adopt effective treatment plans. Medicines, hearing aids, and therapy may be your best options or other medical interventions that can best treat your ear problems.

Emotional Conditions

Emotional conditions can get in the way or hinder effective listening to others. Strong emotions like stress, anxiety, or anger can preoccupy the mind, making it difficult to focus on the speaker’s message. It can also lead to biased interpretations or selective hearing, where we only hear what aligns with our emotional state.

To overcome this, practicing self-awareness and emotional regulation techniques, like deep breathing or mindfulness, can help manage your emotions. Creating a supportive and empathetic environment that encourages open communication can help you better listen despite your emotional challenges. It will also help you maintain effective communication despite the odds.


Listening can be challenging when there are many distractions around you. External distractions such as background noise, visual distractions, or interruptions can divert attention. Internal distractions like racing thoughts or personal concerns can also impact your listening skills. 

To overcome these problems, you can create a quiet and focused environment. Try to minimize or eliminate known distractions and practice mindfulness. To stay engaged, maintain eye contact with the speaker and use active listening techniques like summarizing or paraphrasing. If your attention drifts, make an effort to redirect it. 

Furthermore, practicing deep breathing or meditation techniques can help improve concentration and reduce internal distractions.


Inattention can significantly impact your ability to hear others effectively. This lack of focus on what the speaker is saying affects your communication skills. It can also be because you lack concentration and are preoccupied, or you have a habit of not fully engaging in listening.

Some Causes Of Inattention

Lack Of Understanding

Understanding the message may be harder if you have language or hearing difficulties. This extra mental work might cause inattention or mental exhaustion.

Social Anxiety

Hearing issues can cause social anxiety. Some people fear mishearing or reacting in the wrong way. It’s anxiety that can make it hard to focus on the conversation.

Sensory Overload

People with trouble hearing may struggle with multiple sounds or too much background noise. It may become challenging to focus on the person speaking and filter out other sounds, leading to decreased attention and reduced listening ability.

Try to consciously focus during conversations. Practice active listening techniques, like maintaining eye contact, nodding or affirming gestures, and asking questions for clarification. Knowing you’re listening will inspire the speaker to speak elaborately and clearly.

Develop a curious and sincere attitude towards the speaker to improve your listening and attentiveness. Communication involves responding to the message appropriately. Make an effort to give competent feedback so you can also improve your listening skills at the same time.

The Bottom Line

Many things up your sleeve may get in the way of how you can effectively listen to others. Getting professional help may be the best idea for you. In fact, expert advice can help you manage the stressors, distractions, and other factors that make you unable to listen to others.

Accepting that you have the tendencies and inabilities to hear well is best. The succeeding steps will come easy as you work your way into resolving its causes and problems. 

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