Pseudo-Listening: A Fake Attention


    Listening is an important skill for your whole life, either educational, professional, and even your daily life. Listening is different from hearing. When you listen, you need to pay much attention to the speaker so you are able to comprehend what the content is. It is different from hearing. You hear a sound of splashing water, you hear a person screaming, you hear the music, etc. Hearing does not require any deliberate attention. However, some of us might be (or have been) a pseudo-listener. But wait, what does it mean to be one?


    Pseudo-listening is when you appear to listen actively and respond to a conversation, when in fact, you are ignoring or only partially listening to the speaker. I guess most of us have done it at least once, maybe? Let us check it. Have you ever listened to your friend while scrolling your TikTok For You Page? Or have you ever pretended to be interested in your friend’s story when actually you think it is boring? And then you just nodded but actually you do not really listen to them? If your answer is yes, then I am right, you have done it at least once. Pseudo-listeners often show nonverbal hints that indicate that they are actively listening, such as nodding their heads, saying “Uh-uh”, smiling, or other similar hints of paying attention. So, it might be a little bit hard to distinguish a person who is actively listening or pseudo-listening.


    Okay, if we know that sometimes we do it, then, is it good? Well, it depends on the situation. Most of us will do pseudo-listening when we are not really into the topic, or maybe we are busy, or simply we just do not want to know the information. Basically, the purpose of pseudo-listening is not to listen, but to satisfy some other need of the listener.


    However, despite the situation, good listening is active listening. Active listening refers to when you listen attentively, understand the messages, are able to remember the things being said, and respond or give feedback appropriately. If you want to be an active listener who listens effectively, you should pay attention to the speaker. You should focus on the things they say, and you can give some cues to let them know that you are really listening to them. For example, make eye contact, nod your head, ask questions, ignore other distractions, do not interrupt, etc. The aim of doing active listening is to understand someone and enjoy their presence, learn something new, and give help or comfort. They will also feel appreciated when you listen actively to them and try to understand them.


    Being a good listener is not always an easy thing to do, but it is also not impossible. You can develop this skill by always practicing and controlling yourself so you can focus on your partner and what they say. This is a valuable skill you will not regret learning.


Rogers, Carl R. “Pseudo Listening Vs True Listening (Differences).” OptimistMinds, https://optimistminds.com/pseudo-listening/.

“Types of Listening | Pseudo, Appreciative, Empathetic, Comprehensive & Critical - Video & Lesson Transcript.” Study.com, 24 July 2021, https://study.com/academy/lesson/types-of-listening-pseudo-appreciative-empathic-comprehensive-critical.html.

“Use 6 Active Listening Skills & Techniques to Coach Others | CCL.” Center for Creative Leadership, https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/coaching-others-use-active-listening-skills/.

Writer: Leony Sutanto Halim 

Editor: Junanda Amriansyah