Understanding basic principles of listening (I)

In life we spend a lot of time talking. Millions of words are spoken daily. We spend time communicating with different kinds of people. We engage in verbal communication in marriages, businesses, communities etc. We hear words each time we meet people in meetings, conferences, churches etc. We talk to people and people talk to us.

We spend time talking but the question is do we listen as we ought to. If we really listen as we ought to there will be minimal misunderstanding among people. If we listen well when people talk, arguments will be brought to the barest minimum.

We can hear people talk but it doesn’t mean we are listening. Listening is different from hearing.

“Much like breathing and blinking your eyes, hearing is involuntary. Fully functioning auditory systems collect noise and funnel it to sensory receptors in the cochlea, where tiny hair cells busily translate pitches and frequencies into electrical impulses. From there these impulses travel along the auditory nerve to the brain where they are interpreted as recognizable sound.

Listening, on the other hand, is a voluntary act requiring conscious attention. You can attend church and hear the pastor speak, but if you choose not to listen, you may not remember the sermon or its message. You can hear your wife when she’s telling you what to buy at the grocery store, but if you’re preoccupied with something else while she’s speaking, you may not remember what she said once you get there.” Debbie Clason

Hearing is the physical ability to perceive sound with your ears. If you are not hearing impaired hearing is an automatic involuntary action.

Listening however is paying attention to the words and sounds you receive by hearing and then understanding, decoding and interpreting and responding to it correctly and appropriately.

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” Roy T. Bennett

Listening is giving thoughtful attention to what you hear. It is grasping the meaning of what is being said. It is not just paying attention to what is being said but also to how the things are being said. It involves giving full attention to the speaker.

“People love to talk but hate to listen. Listening is not merely not talking, though even that is beyond most of our powers; it means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us. You can listen like a blank wall or like a splendid auditorium where every sound comes back fuller and richer.” Alice Duer Miller

Listening is one of the indispensable skills we must acquire, master and effectively utilize if we are going to make a success of his our lives. Listening is a sine qua non to any successful and effective relationship.






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