What would you say is the basic difference between Hearing & Listening?
One relates to physical abilities while the other requires an emotional act of the will.
While living overseas there were times when a local person detected that I was a foreigner. Often this would motivate them to speak slower and louder. They judged that I did not speak their language well, and probably understood it even less. Somehow speaking slower and louder was suppose to help. If they decided that I was elderly. Their noise level would increase even more. I guess for them listening had to do with the volume of their voice.
Somehow we equate being understood by the pitch of our vocal chords.
But, what is at the heart of good listening?
I would suggest that true listening has to do with the way we view the person talking to us.
Do we see them as a problem to be fixed or a project to be figured out?
Let me suggest a litmus test for evaluating your ability to really listen.
- While someone is speaking do you mentally race to figure out how to reply?
- When someone speaks to you, does your mind run quickly to answers?
- When there is a break in the conversation, do you rush to tell them a story from your own life that their situation reminds you of?
- In short, do you listen to respond or do we listen to understand?
When we truly listen we give away control of the conversation and relinquish that to the speaker.
Truth be told, when a friend shares something about themselves, they want to be validated and most of all heard.
Once we have really listened, people then appreciate phrases like:
- Thank you for sharing that.
- I wouldn’t have known that unless you had told it to me.
- Listening to you gives me a new perspective on that aspect of your life.
- I was blessed to hear that…
- I was touched by what you revealed.
So, now that you have a clearer focus on the difference, I would invite you to go find someone and practice listening. You may find that you come away enriched, and feeling closer to the person you give your ear to.
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