We can encounter a number of different challenges every day that affect our ability to truly listen to people. Let us look at some examples.
Outside noise. This can be a serious problem as it detracts from our ability to pay attention to the person who is talking to us. We live in a noisy world with sirens, TV sets in waiting rooms, and people talking on their cell phones. All of these sorts of things can make it hard for us to listen properly. In addition, internal noise from our own thoughts or preconceptions can also make it hard to listen and understand properly.
Electronic devices. Today, practically everyone carries a cellphone and many people do a lot of texting. Many people have smartphones that allow them to access the internet. These things make it very hard for these people to listen well because they are often being distracted by the vibrating of their phone when a text message comes in or by their need to check something on the internet.
Our more diverse society. When we listen, it is much easier to listen to people who have the same values and assumptions (as well as accents) that we do. In our society today, however, there are many people who are different from us. When we listen to them, we may have a hard time truly understanding them because we do not clearly understand how they are using language. We have to listen very carefully to be able to understand them and it will not always be possible.
These are a few of the challenges that we experience as we listen to people every day.