Barriers to Effective Listening in Groups

Barriers to Effective Listening in Groups
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  • 0:02 Effective Listening
  • 0:31 Barriers
  • 2:02 Strategies to Improve…
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Barriers to effective listening in groups can cause significant workplace issues. Selective listening and selective perception are two type of problems that can impede successful business decisions.

Effective Listening

In today's business world, effective listening is an important trait for workers to have developed as part of their skill set. Effective listening is when a message is heard in its entirety and construed into meaningful information. C&C Chocolates just had their new candy bar voted worst product of the year. The bar is called the Chopper and consists of chocolate with crushed-up grasshoppers. The company is investigating how this huge mistake was made within the company.


There are some common barriers to effective listening in a group setting. Selective listening and selective perception are two major types of issues that can develop in the workplace. The first barrier is called selective listening, and it occurs when an individual's mind wanders. The final result is that the listener remembers what they think the speaker said versus what the speaker actually said. The cause of this problem is because a person's brain works faster than a person can vocalize.

In the Chopper candy bar case, the chocolatiers heard only part of the request of the sales team at the annual meeting. The team mentioned that they wanted a new chocolate bar with a lot of crunch and protein, but not one made of insects. The chocolatiers only heard the first part of the request and fell into the problem of selective listening. In order to prevent this from occurring, an individual can focus on the material, analyze the information, and come up with questions versus only retaining part of the content.

The second barrier is selective perception. This is when a listener creates a message based on what they already believe about the topic versus having an open mind and listening to all of the facts. The chocolatiers believed that the future of candy included unique, bizarre offerings, even though the statistics the marketing team presented showed that consumers were not ready for insect-based candy. The chocolatiers practiced selective perception during the making of the Chopper bar.

Strategies to Improve Listening

There are some ways to help improve listening in the workplace. The first is the use of short-term memory, or information stored in the brain for short-term retrieval to help retain important information. The best way to help remember information in the short term is through repetition. For example, the chocolatiers had to remember the ingredients for their new bar, so they kept reiterating cream, cocoa, butter, grasshoppers over and over.

A second way to improve listening is through the use of long-term memory, or information stored in the brain which can be retrieved during the entire lifespan of an individual. There are four easy steps, which can be used to improve long-term memory results.

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