Why Is It So Hard To Listen?

Why is it so hard to listen?

I walked into the President of the company’s office. I was head of marketing and engineering at the time.

“Gary, nobody listens to me,” he moaned.

“Huh?” I tactfully replied.

“Nobody listens to me.”


“Gary, nobody listens to me,” he tried again.


I finally broke his mood, and we got productive.

OK, what I was trying to do was break through his “woe is me” mood and move on. Problem was, the team of vice presidents (including me, too) just didn’t listen to him. He had lost us.

One reason people don’t listen is that either you don’t have much to say, or you say it way too frequently.

More often the problem is with the listener. We just don’t practice active listening.

Some are trapped inside a narcissistic personality. They are so focused on themselves that they don’t hear other people. Ask a narcissist if they are, and they’ll tell you. “You seem to think about yourself first.” “Well, yes, of course.” (As in, doesn’t everyone?)

Narcissism is a major problem in society right now. But not everyone is narcissistic.

Some just have problems of their own. Like my boss, they just can’t break out of the cycle of despair to even see other people.

Some people are easily distracted. They may be talking with you, but their attention keeps drifting elsewhere. Smart phone notifications anyone?

How about caring? I should have known about the Baby Boomers’ self-centeredness way back in my senior year in college. I was tutoring a guy in German so that he could graduate and accept a good job. I said something about having empathy for a professor. “I don’t have time for someone else,” he replied. Well, at least his wife smiled and thanked me when he passed and graduated.

Why is it so hard to listen? Probably because we just don’t try.

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