3 Big Listening Mistakes

by Dr. Lynn Wicker


In a recent article in Psychology Today, 9 Listening Mistakes That Will Damage Your Relationships, author Amy Moran says that listening shouldn’t be a passive activity—it requires active participation. As an administrative professional, being a great listener can get tough at times.

We actually can make the issue worse by how we listen (or not), and how we choose to react or respond when things heat up in the office. We can hone our listening skills by knowing some of the mistakes we may already be making. But, the skill of active listening is so much more than learning to just keep your mouth shut while others are talking to us.

In her article, Amy Moran shares 9 bad listening habits taken from The Communication Skills Book by Matthew McKay. I thought it would be helpful to take a few of these bad habits and apply them to the kinds of communication encounters you may have as an administrative professional.

1. Mind Reading

When your boss or coworker comes to you with a problem or issue that you’ve heard dozens of times, it’s so tempting to make immediate judgements and assumptions about their situation. This mind reading habit can lead us to formulate opinions, attitudes and decisions based on our ability to be a great mind reader.

The truth is, none of us are mind readers.

Listen to the situation with fresh ears. You may find that it’s nothing like you assumed and requires an entirely different response from you.

2. Rehearsing

I think it’s fair to say we are all guilty of this one. A colleague, customer, or client starts talking to you and you can tell they are building up to asking you to allow them to do something you already know you are going to deny.

So, instead of being an active listener while they are talking, we are busy rehearsing the speech we are about to deliver on why our answer is an emphatic no. The problem is that while we are rehearsing our “no” speech in our heads, we can’t be really sure what they are actually saying to us.

The truth is, they may not be heading down the path to the “ask” we think they are, and because we haven’t really been listening, our response is going to be totally off base.

3. Daydreaming

This listening mistake is a close cousin to the other ones. It’s no doubt that our plates are often full to overflowing and there is always plenty for us to be daydreaming about. Whether it’s our upcoming deadlines or other concerns that tempt us to drift off to another place while someone is trying to have a conversation with us, just being more aware of staying tuned in is a great place to start.

Like I’ve always said, there’s a reason we all have two ears but only one mouth!

IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event.

Dr. Lynn Wicker
President, Center for Innovative Educational Solutions, LLC | John Maxwell Certified Team Member






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