Becoming a Better Listener by Overcoming Listening Bias and Selective Hearing
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Effective communication has to do largely with being a better listener. In this Explearning conversation, we discuss the listening bias and how to overcome selective hearing.

We discuss the listening bias and why it’s important to be cognizant of it in communication. 

As you know, communication is a two-way street. Being an effective communicator isn’t just about speaking well, it’s also about listening well.

And the listening bias can be a detriment to listening effectively.

So what is the listening bias?

The listening bias is selective hearing. Think of it as only hearing or listening to things that you want to listen to. It’s about hearing what you want to hear. Maybe it’s about hearing something that confirms your bias about something or someone. Maybe it’s about hearing something that calcifies your opinion about something or someone. It’s selectively choosing what to hear in a conversation. 

The listening bias can happen consciously or subconsciously.

And it can be damaging to a conversation or to a relationship because selectively hearing does not mean truly hearing. It’s antithetical to active listening. 

Active listening is setting all prejudice aside, keeping opinions at bay, and listening wholeheartedly to the person, without passing judgment.

We are all guilty of this from time to time. 

Here are some of the points we discussed:

  • Being more likely to have the listening bias when you are the expert and someone is not speaking on the topic (of your expertise) in an informed way 
  • Hearing things that confirm our biases about someone or something
  • Actors getting typecast and pigeon-holed into certain roles 
  • Preconceived notions calcify our ability to have a complete understanding of someone
  • We’re often wrong about the judgments we form, so we need to fight the selective hearing urge and listening bias

How we can overcome the listening bias:

  • Refrain from passing judgment or have strong opinions about something or someone
  • If you feel a heightened emotion about something, that’s a good indication that you’re starting to judge
  • Used that sensation and dial back the judgment
  • Combat that sense of judgment with a sense of curiosity
  • Practice active listening
  • Push yourself to be more open to new ideas and differing viewpoints
  • Seek out differing viewpoints and it helps them have a nuanced understanding of the world or about a situation
  • Get out of your echo chamber and surround yourself with people who’ll disagree or challenge you
  • Seeking out opposition will get your thinking and be a great brain exercise

Instead of listening to what we want to hear and hearing only that which confirms our preexisting biases or preconceived notions, let’s listening fully and attentively.

The next time we engage in conversation, while listening, let’s listen with an open mind and heart. 

The transition from a black and white world to a technicolor world, where we can see the full spectrum of color with all the gradients.

Over time, our viewpoints will become more contextualized and colorful.  By embracing differing viewpoints and seeking out dissenting views, introduces a richness and vibrance that we might not get when we’re constrained by our biases. 

It brings a new dimension to the conversation and ramps up your communication skill.

Practice these strategies and we’ll see you in the next one!

Happy Explearning ⚡

About the Author and the Explearning Academy:

Mary Daphne is an expert in communication, executive interpersonal skills, and personal development. She is the founder of the Explearning Academy, a platform dedicated to helping individuals enhance their social fluency, boost their careers, and elevate their social game. Through immersive group coaching programs like the Executive Communication Lab and self-guided journeys, participants gain the social superpowers and career catapults they've been searching for. If you're ready to take your negotiation skills to the next level and connect with like-minded individuals, visit and explore the various plans available. Join the Explearning Academy community and unlock your full potential.

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