Are You Hearing or Are You Listening?

Think about the conversations that you have with the people in your life.

What percentage of the time is spent with you talking compared to the time that you spend listening?

Have you ever been shopping in a mall, and crossed paths with someone that you have not seen in a long period of time?

You politely ask them how they are doing, and they proceed to tell you about their life over the next 10 minutes. Eventually, their mouth ceases to move and they feel the need to carry on with their day. They walk away from you, thinking how great it was to see you, and likely believe you two just had a great conversation.

Perhaps you can also relate to those individuals who will actually ask you a question, but after a few seconds you can see their upper lip begin to twitch as they struggle to keep from chiming in. It is only a matter of time before they can’t simply take it any longer, and their thoughts come spilling out. 

The reality is that the majority of people are great talkers, but few people are great listeners.

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

However, it would often seem the other way around.

There is a distinct difference between hearing and listening. Listening takes energy. It requires a person to actively pay attention to each word that the other person is saying while understanding the feelings that exist behind their words. I have long believed that listening is one of the greatest skills that an individual can possess.

Men often have an internal desire to want to fix things. My good wife will often tell me, “Al, I don’t need you to fix me, I just need you to listen.” And believe me, I am trying.

People often approach me and say something like, “I don’t know why, but people always come to me and unload all of their problems.” The answer is quite simple: these are the individuals who are willing to listen.

One of our basic needs is that we each just want be heard. When we truly listen to what others are saying, we are telling the other person that what they are saying is important. 

So what is larger?

Your mouth or your ears?

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