Mental Health

The Art of Listening

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I was in my public speaking class and my professor made an interesting point. He said hearing is not listening, that they are actually two completely different things. He described that hearing is just having vibrations that bounce off your ears while listening is active cognitive engagement and meaning-making.

Often we find that we only hear the people around us.

We are constantly surrounded by distractions – Facebook, our phones, or even the person across the room. In some ways it is amazing that we can’t even carry a conversation sometimes. I am at fault here way too often; I am the guy who in the middle of a conversation will pull out his phone or turn on some music or check his Facebook.

So what is actually difference between hearing and listening?

As I said before, hearing is only the surface level; it is when you pass by someone, ask them how they are doing, and then carry on without really paying attention to what they say. Hearing is not unlike surface-level talking, I suppose; when there is no deeper engagement on any level then you are only hearing the people around you instead of listening.

Listening is more then just hearing words, it is also engaging with them on a deeper level.

When with your friends, you need to listen to what is going on and engage with it rather than just hearing them. You need to listen to what is really going on and to how they are feeling and such. This sort of leads into the next thing I wanted to talk about: friends and listening.

Think about your friends – how many of them actually listen to you and how many do you actually listen too? Sure the initial reaction is going to be “Of course I listen to ALL of them” but think about it, do you really? Are you really listening, or are you only hearing them?

There is another thing about listening that my professor talked about, and that is is the overt message vs. the covert message. When you talk to someone, there are sometimes two things that are actually going on – they tell you one thing, but mean something different OR they tell you part of what’s going on but don’t talk about it on a deeper level. I

If you are only hearing someone, then you won’t be in-tune with what this ‘deeper level’ is that they are implying or trying to hide.

But, if you really listen to them, then you will be able to pick up all of the messages they are sending – both on the surface and underneath.

Through listening to other people, we gain knowledge, we gain understanding of them, and we not only show but we also gain respect for them. And if you listen to the people around you – especially those who are older – it can make a huge difference in your life.

Take the time today to listen to your friends around you and see what you can learn.

Christian struggled through and recovered from depression. He likes to write so others can hear his story and know there is hope. His goal is that through sharing, people will be able to see their story within his own.

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