When you’re listening to a friend, a family member or anyone in your life and they tell you about something important to them, are you actually hearing them?
Many people confuse listening with hearing, since they are so similar to each other, however, there’s a big difference between the two terms. When you listen to someone, you engage yourself in a process where you gain knowledge about someone’s life, someone’s struggles, their ups and their downs. When you hear them, you gain understanding of that knowledge they shared with you. You gain empathy and see things from a different perspective that helps you put yourself in that person’s shoes.
In our lives how many times have we listened to people and how many times have we actually heard them?
I always thought those two numbers were even and that since I listened to someone countless of times it meant I had also heard them each one of those times, but I most likely didn’t. I’ve made the mistake of listening at times for the sake of reciprocating the favour, because if my friend has listened to me I should listen to them too and I thought that meant I had heard them as well but I didn’t really.
Ever since I’ve started paying more attention to those around me and to the people I talk to, I’ve come to see when I am being a passive listener and when I’m actually hearing someone and trying to understand their joy, their sadness, hope and even despair.
I’ve also started noticing when people don’t hear me and I now try to express my feelings towards that. It’s a communication barrier I never knew existed before and something I struggled to really grasp since I always thought that if I went and told someone something that information stayed with them forever.
Learning to be a better communicator is something I am working on and is something I recommend to everyone.
Listen and hear your own thoughts trying to tell you what you need, listen and hear others when they say what they need. Pay attention to yourself and those you love because that will only bring you a clearer picture of life.