How to Tell Your Friend They're a Bad Listener

Friendship is a two-way street, and you should always be treated with respect.

Listening to others is one of the best ways to show respect. If you find yourself with a friend who constantly violates this unspoken friendship rule, these are the steps you can take to turn the situation around.

pair of headphones

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Call Attention to the Problem

If you internalize your feelings, nothing will ever get solved. When you have a friend who makes you feel bad with their lack of listening, you need to speak up. The sooner you do it, the better for the situation. Don't let things get out of control because you decided to stay quiet. If you've determined your friend is a habitually bad listener, ask to speak to them in private about this.


Get to the Root of the Cause

Instead of letting accusations fly, let yourself get to the root of the cause. Every person goes through different things and maybe they are acting up for a valid reason. When you speak to them about their behavior, start by giving them a chance to explain what's going on. A simple sentence like, "I really appreciate our friendship, but have noticed you don't enjoy listening to me recently," is a good starter. After the fact is stated, give them a chance to present their side of the story. You can follow with, "Have you noticed this as well? Is there something going on that you want to talk about?" These questions are open-ended enough that they shouldn't put anybody on the defense.

girl listening

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Use Pauses to Your Benefit

After you open up the conversation, use silence to your benefit. In tough situations, we are tempted to fill the silence with words. If your friend takes time to answer, don't jump in to do the job for them. Use pauses to your benefit and make them feel as if they need to fill the conversation. After you start, sit back and let them do the talking.


Decide Where to Take the Convo

If your friend admits to a situation like a hard time at home being the cause of their bad listening, you should decide where to take the convo next. Offer your support and let them know you'll always be there, no matter what. If your friend states that they are being a bad listener on purpose because they have an ax to grind with you, hammer out what to do next. If they were simply careless and didn't realize they were hurting your feelings, make sure the conversation leads you to a place where you both know this won't happen again.

listening neon sign

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Wrap It Up

There's no need to prolong a hard conversation. After you two hash out what was causing the behavior and what course of action you want to take, wrap up the convo and move on. Don't hold grudges or follow up with lengthy texts. Allow the constructive conversation to sink in, and be confident that politely approaching your friend about their listening was the best course of action.


If your friend is still acting up, find out if it's because they're jealous of your relationship with your S.O., HERE!