If You Hear Yourself Saying These 16 Things, You’re Probably A Bad Listener

You want to be heard, which is fair enough, but are you giving other people the same courtesy? Turns out, being a great listener is harder than it seems! If you find yourself uttering these phrases a bit too often, it might be time for a listening skills tune-up.

1. “I know exactly how you feel.”

No, you don’t. Even if you’ve been through a similar situation, everyone’s experiences and emotions are unique, The Guardian points out. When you say this, you’re essentially telling the other person that their feelings are generic and unimportant. Instead of assuming, try asking more questions to better understand their perspective.

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2. “That reminds me of the time I…”

Not everything is about you. When someone is sharing something personal or important, the last thing they want to hear is a story about your own life. Save your anecdotes for another time and focus on being present and engaged in the conversation at hand.

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3. “Sorry, what?”

If you regularly tell people to stop talking so they can repeat what they’ve just said, it’s a clear sign you’re a bad listener. Maybe you’re guilty of letting your mind wander and it’s making you come across as unkind to those around you. Either way, you’re not fully present in the moment, and that’s not good.

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4. “Hey, wait — Tommy, stop doing that! Sorry, go on.”

Life can be hectic. Maybe you’re trying to listen to what your friend or partner is saying, but your kid or cat in the background is doing something mischievous and you have to keep interrupting the conversation to sort out your drama. Yikes! Do everyone (and yourself) a favor by scheduling a different time to chat.

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5. “Wait, let me tell you…”

Your friend mentions that they had an amazing time at a new restaurant in town, and you quickly jump in with this phrase to get the chance to talk about your experience there instead. Sigh. If you’re regularly dominating conversations in this way, cutting people off and forcing them to listen to you, you’re shutting connections down.

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6. “I know what you’re gonna say.”

You might think you know what your friend’s about to tell you about the freaky dream she had the previous night or the bad date she went on, but you’re not a conversation psychic! Their story could surprise you, so bite your tongue and let them finish.

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7. “I’ve heard this before.”

man giving woman advice

It’s pretty mean to cut someone off and tell them that you’ve heard their story before. Maybe they forgot that they already told you about their bike accident, or they’re boring you to death with some tabloid news that you heard from five other people. That doesn’t give you the right to interrupt them or make them feel boring.

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8. “I don’t care about that.”

smiling woman sitting at desk

When someone’s trying to talk to you about an issue that’s on their mind, whether it’s a fight with their partner or stress at work, it’s not cool to shut them down by telling them you’re not interested in what they want to talk about. Over time, this will alienate people and make them resent you. If you care about them, you should be willing to listen to the things that are important to them.

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9. “Oh, here’s what you do…”

men talking at outdoor cafe

Someone offloads on you about a problem they’re experiencing, and the first thing you do is launch into a plan of attack. Don’t do this! You’re dishing out unsolicited advice instead of allowing them to vent and unleash their stress, and maybe even come up with their own idea of how to sort out their problems. Unless they ask for suggestions, keep your quick fixes to yourself.

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10. “Sorry, gotta take this.”

You’re having a deep conversation with someone when your phone rings or beeps. Instead of ignoring it so you can give the person your undivided attention, you tell them you’ve got to answer the call or text. Ouch! This lets them know just how important they’re not in your life. This behavior, known as phubbing, can totally destroy your relationships, Time Magazine reveals.

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11. “I have to go first.”

Maybe you’re so excited to tell your friend about something that’s burning in your mind, but it’s rude to hijack the conversation if they actually had something important to tell you. Stop, take a breath, count to 10, and listen! Then, once they’re done, you can say whatever’s so urgent.

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12. “Really?”

Your friend told you a million times already that she’s going to Greece for a vacation, but clearly you didn’t listen to a word she said. Now you’re saying “Really?” as though it’s the first time you’re hearing it. Ugh.

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13. “No, I’m listening.”

If someone asks you if you’re listening and you have to tell them that you are, guess what? They think you’re not. It could be that you look distracted or, if you’re chatting on the phone, the issue could be that you don’t say anything for ages and it’s making them think you’ve zoned out of the conversation and relationship.

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14. “I’ve gotta run.”

Life can be hectic, but if you always have to cut convos short because you have to go do something else, it makes people feel like you don’t care to listen to them or don’t have time for them. They’ll always walk away feeling like they’re way down on your priorities list.

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15. “Did you see this on social?”

Cute couple looking at social media on their phone

Maybe you’re addicted to social media and you keep whipping out your phone to show your friend or partner something online. If they’re trying to have a conversation about something else and you direct their attention to your feed, it’s a clear sign that you’re not interested in what they have to say. Geez.

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16. “That’s life.”

If someone’s trying to tell you about something really sad that happened to them, it’s not cool to say something like, “That’s life.” You’re brushing off their feelings and writing off what’s on their mind. Ditto if they’re sharing a minor inconvenience — hey, that stuff can hurt too! If you have bitter feelings about something, it’s worth dealing with it yourself so it doesn’t rub off on others.

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Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.