Why Do We Listen So Poorly?

By Greg Baer M.D.

October 26, 2015

On the whole, we listen very poorly. Instead of listening to what other people are really saying:

  • We defend ourselves.
  • We wait for an opening—a pause—so we can say what’s on our own mind.
  • We think of witty responses.
  • We attack people as they have attacked us.

None of this non-listening is ever productive in the long run, but we do it anyway. Why? Why do we listen so poorly?

We listen poorly now precisely because as children we DID listen. As children we were innocent. We strongly desired to form connections with people. So we did listen. We listened as people sighed and rolled their eyes and otherwise told us that we were an enormous inconvenience. We listened as people changed their tone of voice dramatically when we made mistakes. We listened to people use words and facial expressions that clearly communicated their lack of love and respect for us.

But eventually we couldn’t tolerate what we were hearing anymore, so we quit listening. It was that simple. But it was also unconscious. We don’t remember those early days when we were actually eager to listen—when we trusted implicitly the adults around us. But the wounds caused by what we heard are still there, and they motivate us not to listen but instead to defend ourselves.

What’s the solution? We need a reason to listen again. We need to find people who love us no matter what. We need to hear the messages that will wake up the ears of our souls. We need to find a reason to listen again, and then we will.


Recover from your negative habits and beliefs!


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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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