Are you listening or just hearing?

Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2020

At four o’clock in the morning the world around me sounds very different than 9am. i appreciate the stillness.

However, I am often shocked when I concentrate on the sounds even at that time. How did I ever miss the frog croaking or the neighbor’s water fountain gurgle. Every time I go outside the sounds are there, but coverd up by all the other noise.

How much do we block out parts of our environment instinctively. The sound of a fan pushing air on a warm day just fades in the background. We now have a wonderful tool called noise cancelling heaphones. Sometimes, I call it selective hearing when I hear a shout for some help reverberating in the house.

I found a chart that compared hearing vs. listening which I thought was a reasonable breakdown of the differences. Put simply for me, I think of listening as an active measure that has an outcome, where hearing is passive and in the background.

A call to listen, did you hear me?

I looked back on several posts I have written and quite a few talk about listening well. With all the noise that the world is generating, I believe our focus on listening is ever so important. Listening well will increase our empathy, guide our grace, and evolve our love for others. So the next time you get a chance to listen to people:

  • Don’t speak, even in your head. It is easy to start the rebuttal process isn’t it. Also, most times listening is all that is needed, not an answer to fix what the other person is telling you.
  • Assume the best intentions. What you hear might not align with your beliefs, but what you listen to may be the cry for support and consolation of a deeper issue.
  • Gain understanding. Listening will always provide a nugget of learning, even if it is a disagreement on what is being said. Your views evolve from listening.