DBT: Blocks to Listening

In DBT class this week we read about blocks to listening in our workbook. These are things we do that sabatoge our ability to listen effectively to others. Using these blocks can make our relationships difficult because if we do not listen effectively we will not be able to understand and speak effectively.

Here are the 10 blocks to listening as listed in the workbook.

Blocks to listening

Taken from The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, 2007


If there is one block I’m REALLY, REALLY bad at its mind reading.  I do this block at least 95-99% of the time when I’m engaged in emotional communication. I am not even a good mind reader but yet I keep telling B that I know what he’s TRULY thinking, what he ACTUALLY means and I know it is annoying and hurtful for him. My mind reading feeds my fear that I am not safe within my relationship. I am scaring myself and giving B the impression that I think he’s a bad person. This is a very ineffective strategy and mind reading is definitely a block to listening.

I also use: judging, advising, and being right (frequently)

What blocks to listening to you use?


16 thoughts on “DBT: Blocks to Listening

  1. I do mind-reading habitually. actually, I do all of these except for daydreaming and derailing. Apparently, I have no idea how to communicate or have a conversation. Good to know, so maybe I can improve, now that I’m aware. No wonder my daughter and I clash so much.

  2. # 5
    no matter how hard I try to stay focused, i drift. paying attention has always been my shortcoming. in school the teachers always wrote that i was a daydreamer; they moved my chair so I could not see out the window, but it didn’t matter. it was not the window i was looking out, it was all the things in my mind that kept me going though out the day. not sure if dissociating is the same as day dreaming. do you know?

    #10. placate. depending on the definition of the word here, i do not see any problem with placating someone, as long as it is not harmful to either party. relationships are give and take. now if you give up things constantly, to appease them, but they do nothing in return, then that is harmful. balance.

    #7’s, arguing and debating. omg, truly terrifying, no joke. i shrink when people want to argue. i can’t watch any kind of debates without getting terrible tummy. not long ago, i was out in public when a couple were having an intense conversation (trigger!). it was scary to me. they were not being loud or inappropriate, but i was panicking, wondering if guns would be drawn.

    interesting list. it will be fun to be more watchful of others and see where other’s blocks are. i never saw these behaviors as blocks! it will help me to have a better understanding of others as well. thanx!!!

  3. Mind-reading and rehearsing. A LOT. I used to do the others (communication style picked up from the bio parents) but treatment has helped me to stop doing this as often.

      • A lot of practice, lol. But seriously, I would do a lot of role-playing with my therapist. She’d point out when I was using them and ask me to note if I felt I might be using them. Then we’d brainstorm ways I could assert myself and get my needs met while NOT using defensive communication. It was very hard to re-learn to communicate, but I’m grateful every single day that I’ve improved as much as I have.

      • I’ve always been to nervous to role play 😛 I like that she would point out the blocks and have you reflect on them. Sometimes I find I am very concious that I am doing one of those blocks and other times it just falls out of my mouth. I’m so glad you have improved! That makes me hopeful for myself! Thank you for sharing.

      • Np! It’s definitely awkward. But once you push past that, it’s so helpful. Also, I find it helps to role play situations that already happened. So you essentially re-enact the conversation but role play to find new, more effective, ways to communicate. It’s slightly less weird and nerve-wracking than trying to come up with an imaginary dialogue, you know? 🙂

  4. Pingback: DBT Skills: Onto the Next Module | Pride in Madness

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