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Are We Listening Or Just Hearing? By Robin Carter

Robin Carter - Bird's NestIf you believe that there is a difference between hearing and listening, you’re right. Hearing is simply being able to receive sound to the ear. Unless one is hearing impaired, hearing just simply happens. There is nothing you need to do to prepare for it, it comes naturally. However, listening is something that we consciously choose to do. In order for our brain to process the meaning and understanding from words we hear, we need to concentrate on what is being said. Listening increases your learning ability and gives you a broader view of things. The practice of keeping an open-mind, open ears, and an open heart at all times can be challenging. We sometimes listen with a filter for the things we are familiar with or things that oppose or support our belief system. (Matthew 13:15) says, for the people’s heart has grown dull, their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed. Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn so that I should heal them.

We have eyes yet not see, ears that hear not and hearts that neither hear nor understand. So in order for things of importance to be effective, deeper listening is required. This mechanism is called “active listening.” The best way to improve our listening skills is to practice this. In doing so we make a conscious effort to not only hear words perceived by someone else, but more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent. In order to obtain this, we must pay close attention to the individual who is delivering the message. During “active listening” we cannot allow ourselves to become distracted by our surroundings, nor can we allow ourselves to get bored during the process.

Previously, I was not a good listener; there were times when I engaged in more hearing rather than listening. If an individual was a lengthy speaker during a presentation, I’d usually find myself drifting ay or just listening to the parts that I believed were important— not realizing that some of the things I omitted could have been of more significance to me. While hearing is a necessary tool that is a natural function, listening is an obtainable skill. People are faced with adversity and life’s problems and challenges every day—it’s inevitable! To be as productive and creative as we can be, we need the opportunity to vent sometimes; to talk through and solve problems that keep us bound. If we have someone who listens well, we can often get clarity and resolution to the problems we are faced with. At this point we can often move forward with renewed energy and focus.

So ask yourself, are you listening or just hearing?