The question in my previous post generated quite a few responses…here on this blog, as well as, on my Facebook page.
Everyone got the sequence in the correct order. Hearing precedes listening. Technically speaking, hearing is the first part of listening. Some folks confessed their “sin” of deliberately not listening, while others reflected on their poor listening habits and endeavored to do better. Actually, very few of us are “good” listeners. But does that make it less important? Absolutely not!
“Listen, Can you hear it?” There’s that familiar sound, next door. The teenager is fighting with her mom, again. “I heard what you said the first time, Julie. The answer is still, ‘NO!'”
Julie retorts, “You NEVER listen to me!”
In many houses across this nation…perhaps, around the globe, a version of this drama unfolds, almost every day. Let’s take a look at the processes referred to here.
Hearing, the first part of listening, is passive. You don’t have to do anything to hear. It depends on the integrity of the physical organ, the ear, and your entire body. Did you know that you experience (hear) sound with your whole body? Ask a deaf musician, he’ll tell you about it.
The second part of hearing is electric. That’s when your body’s mechanism takes the physical sound and turns it into a signal that can be picked up and interpreted by your brain cells.
Listening is actually the third part of the process. It involves mental engagement. According to sound scientists, that involves:
- Extracting information, e.g. pattern recognition that allows you to hear your name called in a noisy restaurant.
- Differencing, e.g. ceasing to hear a constant, annoying sound after a few minutes.
- Filtering (this is where it gets messy), e.g. your culture, language, values, beliefs, attitudes, expectations, intention.
Your filters determine whether you internalize certain things or not. In any instance, your conversational intention can actually change what you hear and grasp. Julie was really telling her mom that her attitude showed they did not value or believe the same things.
When children perceive you are listening…that they are being heard, great change can be effected…excellent results can be achieved.
John Bentley calls listening a doorway to understanding, bridge to connecting and a foundation of trust, among other things. I like walking through doorways that lead to pleasant places, don’t you?
Question: What is one specific action you will take to become a better listener?