Occasionally, we come across folks that don’t listen – whether in a general sense, to proper instruction or advice. This can be frustrating and to make matters worse, we may not have been aware of an appropriate term to refer to this person as. Therefore, this article will explore said terms.
What Do You Call A Person Who Doesn’t Listen?
There are many terms that can adequately depict or describe a person who doesn’t listen. However, for the purposes of this article, we will be going over the following terms:
- A Know-It-All
The preferred version that we will highlight is “stubborn”. This is because the word “stubborn” accurately describes someone who is not willing to listen or change their ways. Someone can be stubborn in terms of accepting advice or instructions, being sure that their way is correct, despite being told otherwise.
Cambridge Dictionary defines “stubborn” as a person who is determined to do what he or she wants and refuses to do anything else. Because of this, we often consider a “stubborn” individual to be so set in their ways, they often don’t care what others have to say.
They often openly negate advice or instruction, sometimes coming across as petulant or rude. This is someone who is generally determined to prove that their actions, attitude or beliefs are correct.
Here are a few examples that showcase the use of this term in a sentence:
- My sister and I are both considerably stubborn, so we often butt heads very easily.
- They constantly have huge arguments because they are equally stubborn and unwilling to hear one another out.
- He is not learning from his mistakes, nor is he receptive towards instruction and that’s left us all feeling like he’s too stubborn to work here.
Cambridge Dictionary defines “inattentive” as not giving attention to someone or something. Therefore, we can say that someone who is “inattentive” is not being a good listener. This is often someone who daydreams as opposed to listening in class, at work, etc.
At the same time, we can also say an “inattentive” individual, does not listen nor pay close attention to the needs of others.
To further clarify the proper use of this term, here are some examples:
- She comes to class on time every day, however, she is generally inattentive and bored. I believe she would do better if she were to move up a grade level.
- He was inattentive in his relationship, which caused an abundance of resentment from his girlfriend.
- I was disappointed by the inattentive service and the quality of the food at the new restaurant in town.
Cambridge Dictionary defines a “bullheaded” person as being very determined to do what they want to do, especially without considering other people’s feelings. Because of this, we often think of someone who is “bullheaded” as being a fairly awful listener or difficult to teach.
This is not someone who is willing to take advice, even from a knowledgeable person. Often, a “bullheaded” person will merely walk away mid-conversation or become frustrated when being spoken to about something they don’t want to hear.
Some examples that highlight the use of this particular term are:
- My dog is so bullheaded; he’s very difficult to train and doesn’t have good recall.
- He has a bullheaded belief that he’s always right, even when there is factual evidence stating otherwise.
- My mom is so bullheaded when it comes to what she expects of me and my schooling.
Cambridge Dictionary defines “heedless” as not giving attention to risk or possible difficulty. Often, we consider a person who is “heedless” to negate careful warning and advice. This is a reckless individual, who generally does not listen to the words of their parents, authority figures, etc.
When someone is “heedless” they do not want to listen to the opinions of others. They march to the beat of their own drum, often at the detriment of others’ feelings, stress, etc.
Here are various examples that showcase the use of this term in a sentence:
- He was heedless to the warnings of his parents and teachers alike and entirely unwilling to change his reckless patterns. Heedless of the hurricane warnings, they decided to take their fishing boat out into the water.
- She never listened to authority figures and was heedless to the warnings of the judge. This caused her to disobey her parole orders.
Cambridge Dictionary defines “a know-it-all” as a person who thinks that they know much more than other people. This is someone who behaves as if they are all-knowing and because of this, they do not need to listen to anything that other people have to say.
A “know-it-all” generally feels as if the advice, opinion, or factual information provided by other people is redundant – regardless of the legitimacy.
For additional information on the proper use of this term, here are a few examples:
- My boyfriend’s father is the biggest know-it-all you could ever meet. I can’t get a word in edgewise, as he always cuts me off.
- Our teaching assistant is such a know-it-all. One time she was genuinely wrong and I kindly corrected her and she nearly bit my head off!
- I have a tendency to be a bit of a know-it-all, so I’m working on my active listening skills.
Cambridge Dictionary defines an “ignorant” person as not having enough knowledge, understanding or information about something. Despite this, an “ignorant” person commonly refutes the opinions or factual information presented by others. This is someone that despite their lack of knowledge, doesn’t listen to others.
We often also equate someone who is “ignorant” to be rude and discourteous. They are often difficult to communicate with, as they often don’t care what you have to say.
Here are a few examples that show the appropriate use of this term:
- He was an ignorant individual, that his classmates often found impossible to speak with.
- She was ignorant of the beliefs of others and unwilling to listen to another point of view.
- They were entirely ignorant to the indisputable facts of evolution, merely because of their religious faith.
Cambridge Dictionary defines “obstinate” as unreasonably determined, especially to act in a particular way and not to change at all, despite what anyone else says. Because of this, we often view an “obstinate” individual as someone who is unwilling to listen to anything that someone else has to say.
Despite our best attempts to speak to this person, someone who is “obstinate” is so focused on their train of thought or their ways of doing things, they generally don’t care.
Some examples that functionally use this term in a sentence are:
- He can be overwhelmingly obstinate at times, which puts a lot of strain on our relationship.
- She has an obstinate refusal to compromise and she never wants to listen to the opinions of others.
- She has an obstinate determination to become a lawyer and I doubt that anyone could get in her way.
Cambridge Dictionary defines “contrary” as the opposite or a person who wants to disagree with and annoy other people. Therefore, we often see “contrary” people as those who always do the opposite of what we tell them or advise them to do.
At the same time, someone who is “contrary” often disagrees purposely in order to create a conflict, as they often thrive or get pleasure out of it.
To further clarify this term, we will go over the following examples:
- She acts contrary to the beliefs and advice of her peers, often making her seem like a terrible listen.
- He doesn’t really mean it – he’s just trying to be contrary to get under your skin.
- Contrary to popular opinion, I do not dye my hair or get lip injections. I’m a very natural person!
Cambridge Dictionary defines “oblivious” as not conscious of something, especially of what is happening around you. Because of this, we generally consider someone who is “oblivious” to be a very poor listener. They often ignore you or don’t seemingly care for what you’re saying, without intentionally doing so.
An “oblivious” individual often entirely misses the point of a conversation, which is often at their own detriment.
Some various examples that show this term in a sentence are:
- She was so absorbed in her work; she was oblivious to her friends inviting her out to dinner.
- He was oblivious to how his actions were affecting his wife, despite her best attempts to explain it to him.
- Occasionally, I can be entirely oblivious to when someone is talking to me because I am a frequent daydreamer.
Cambridge Dictionary defines “distracted” as nervous or confused because you are worried about something. Therefore, we can generally equate a very “distracted” individual as someone who is not going to be the best listener. This may be unintentional, but it is a result of being so “distracted”.
When someone is “distracted” they are often too consumed in their own thoughts to be concerned about the goings-on of others. They are often too “distracted” to functionally hold a conversation.
Lastly, we will go over our final examples for this article:
- He seems very distracted today – I think he is worried about his father who is in the hospital.
- She seems too distracted with herself to ever be concerned about her boyfriend’s feelings and it is ruining their relationship.
- I used to wonder why my parents got a divorce when I was younger, but my father explained to me that my mother was far too distracted with her career to care for him or her children.
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Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.