Role of Culture and Gender in Listening

Both culture and gender have in�uence on how people listen. Beebe et al. (2017) explain that people have different listening styles, goals, and focuses. For example, people from a collectivist culture—or a culture where its members identify more with the group than their own individual identities—lean toward being more relational listeners. Relational listeners tend to listen more to the emotions exhibited in the conversation than the message structure or content. On the other hand, task-oriented listeners tend to listen for task details and the structure of the message to hear what steps need to be taken.

Analytical listeners act more like a judge and withhold judgment until all sides or facts are heard.

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Listening styles also vary by gender. Women are more often relational listeners, and men more often can be task-oriented or analytical listeners.

Besides your having to negotiate differences due to different listening styles, your listening abilities may be hampered because of listening barriers. Beebe et al. (2017) explain that people can be poor listeners because of listening barriers, which include being self-absorbed, being self-selecting, using unchecked emotions, exhibiting listener apprehension, criticizing the speaker silently, and experiencing information overload or external noise.

Let’s look at an example about how these different barriers affected this romantic couple. Josh is a task-oriented listener, and his �ancée, Shanti, is a relational listener. Josh and Shanti are in the process of planning their wedding. They make a date to go out to dinner to discuss their ideas. That day, Josh has a very trying issue at work. Shanti is very excited about planning and spends the day downloading information for their discussion.


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