Mind reading – You are mind reading when you disregard or distrust what the other person is actually saying and instead try to figure out what he or she “really means”.   Mind readers give too much importance to subtle cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and posture.  They ignore the actual content of what their partner is saying in favor of their own assumptions and hunches.

Rehearsing – You are so busy rehearsing what you’ll say next that you never really hear what the other person is telling you.  

Filtering – Filtering means that you listen to some things being said but not others.  Filtering can also work to exclude things you don’t want to hear.

Judging – Judging means that you have stopped really listening to the other person because of some negative evaluation you have given them – or that you only listen for the purpose of assigning blame and putting negative labels on the other person.

Daydreaming – Everyone’s attention wanders.  When you are familiar with someone, it is especially easy to stop listening and to drift away into your own fantasies.

Advising – The other person barely has time to speak a complete sentence before you jump in with your advice.  Your search for the right solution and your urge to fix everything deafens you to your partner’s simple need to be heard.

Sparring – You listen only to disagree, argue, and debate.  You take a position and defend it, regardless of what the other person says.

Being Right – This block protects you from hearing anything that suggests you are less than perfect.  To avoid any suggestion that you are wrong, you will lie, shout, change the subject, justify, quibble, make excuses, accuse, or otherwise fight off criticism.

Derailing – You change the subject or joke it off whenever the conversation becomes too personal or threatening.  By misdirection or humor you avoid listening to the other person’s serious concerns.

Placating – You are too quick to agree.  As soon as the other person expresses doubt, irritation, or anxiety, you jump in with, “Yes, your right . . . I’m sorry . . . I’ll fix it.”  You are so concerned with being nice, supportive, and agreeable that you don’t give the other person enough time to fully express his or her thoughts.

Adapted from “Couple Skills: Making your Relationship Work” by McKay, Fanning and Paleg