Ears Closed, Mouth Open: Breaking Down 12 Bad Habits of Terrible Listeners

By Krystal Brown

Have you ever wondered if you’re bad a listener? If so, here are 12 habits that you might be guilty of. 

Interrupting the Person

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Everyone hates being interrupted while they are venting. Even though you may have useful advice or suggestions to give, sometimes all a person needs is a listening ear. Continuously interrupting someone will annoy them and they may prevent them from seeking you out in the future to talk.

Trying to Relate

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Trying to relate what a person is saying to your own experiences is not always helpful. It can feel like you’re making a comparison and invalidating their feelings.

You need to realise that just because you have gone through something does not mean that you are the leading expert on the matter. While you may be able to give advice, you need to be empathetic and appreciate their unique pain.


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Picture this, your friend is trying to vent, and you keep pulling cute pictures of your dog. No, it is not cheering your friend up. In fact, it makes the person feel unheard and frustrated. When someone is speaking, take the time to just listen and understand where they are coming from.

Getting Distracted

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People notice when you get distracted while speaking to them which may prompt them to stop speaking altogether. Being a good listener requires you to be present while the other person is speaking.

This means your body language, posture, and demeanor should indicate that you are paying attention.

Getting Impatient

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Trying to rush someone while they are speaking is disrespectful and shows a complete disregard for their feelings. No one likes feeling rushed while they are trying to articulate their thoughts and feelings. Be mindful of the way your behavior makes the people around you feel.

Making them feel like it is a burden or hassle to listen to them will result in them looking elsewhere for comfort or conversation.

Aggressive Listening

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Listening to react is a clear indicator that you are a bad listener. You are paying attention to only the things you want to hear and not what is actually being said. This is commonly done to win an argument or prove a point; however, it will make people reluctant to speak to you.

They will often feel pressured to watch what they say when speaking to you. Come on, you’re not the cops, anything people say or do should not be used against them.

Making Assumptions

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Completing people’s sentences or jumping to conclusions about where the story is headed is a good way to identify a poor listener. This might make the speaker feel like what they are saying is not interesting or engaging enough.

Instead of steamrolling people, give them the opportunity to finish their thoughts before responding.

Not Asking Questions

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A conversation is a two-way street. That means that both parties should have an opportunity to speak and listen. However, if you are not prompting the other person to speak by asking questions or expressing interest in what they are saying, you are a bad listener.

A good listener asks follow-up questions about what the other person has said to facilitate a good flow in the conversation.

Avoiding Eye Contact

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When you avoid looking at the person who is speaking you miss their facial expressions, gesticulation, and their body language.

These non-verbal cues form the foundation of a good conversation as it helps you identify the emotions underlying the topic that the person is speaking about. This prevents you from providing good responses to keep the conversation going.

Forgetting What the Person Has Said

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This is probably the most obvious clue that you are a bad listener. If you are frequently forgetting the details of the conversations you have had, you most likely were not listening well in the first place.

This signals to your brain that the information is not important enough to commit to long-term memory.

You Cannot Wait Until It Is Your Turn to Speak

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Yes, it is great that you are eager to share your thoughts and ideas, however, your response needs to correspond with what the other person has said. If you are solely focusing on what you want to say in a response, you are probably not even listening in the first place.

If you want to hear your own thoughts so badly, go speak to the mirror. A good listener listens to what the other person has to say and formulates a response accordingly.

You Do Not Say Anything

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Hey, I get it, you are trying to be a good listener and not interrupt the person. But this approach lacks sincerity and might even seem like you are brushing the person off. Vocal prompts are the key to any good conversation and will prompt the other person to continue speaking.

A simple “yeah, I get it” or “I know what you mean” shows you’re staying engaged in the conversation. 

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