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4 Non-Verbal Signs of Ineffective Listening

This is the third installment in a series on better communication. The first and second parts can be found here and here.

Although a certain amount of error has to be expected with all non-verbal signals, the signs of inattention while listening generally include:

Lack of eye contact with the speaker. Listeners who are engaged with the speaker tend to give eye contact. Lack of eye contact can, however, also be a sign of shyness.

An inappropriate posture. Examples include slouching, leaning back or ‘swinging’ on a chair, leaning forward onto a desk or table and/or a constantly shifting posture.   People who are paying attention tend to lean slightly towards the speaker.

Being distracted. Fidgeting, doodling, looking at a watch, yawning.

Inappropriate expressions and lack of head nods. Often when a listener is engaged with a speaker, they nod their head, which is usually an almost subconscious way of encouraging the speaker and showing attention. Lack of head nods can mean the opposite – listening is not happening. The same can be true of facial expressions; attentive listeners use smiles as feedback mechanisms and to show attention.



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