Listen vs hear (opposite poles of effective communication)

Listen vs hear (opposite poles of effective communication)

In this article, we are talking about the difference between listening vs hearing. We also give you great advice on how to become a better listener and how to practice active listening. 

Listen vs hear – the meaning of both concepts

Hearing means receiving sounds and communication. We hear continuously.

For example, we write while the radio is on. We listen to music, but we don’t focus on understanding what it says. We were not listening to it!

Listening means hearing and paying attention to what you hear.

And, in the relationship with other people, it means to be attentive to what the other person says with the intention of understanding the message one transmits.

Many hear, but very few listen!

Listen vs hear (opposite poles of effective communication)

In today’s communication, the ability to listen is often overlooked. However, everyone prefers to talk to a good listener.

Most people just want to be heard. A major factor that determines “poor” listening skills is that we are too focused on ourselves. Yes! That’s right! You heard right! 

People fail to be good listeners because they are concerned to be interesting themselves, rather than to be interested in the person they are talking to, the one who is talking to them.

They mistakenly believe that in order to be liked and accepted it is necessary to show their intelligence and knowledge by making various comments.

We live in a world where speed, carelessness, selfishness and indifference make us stop listening, just listen to what others say, and the sound “enters one ear and leaves the other.”

We hear when the neighbour’s quarrel, when an anxious driver honks, when a child cries too loudly and the mother does not pay attention to him because she knows that because of this he shows up, when and when and when do you see? 

We “HEAR” when something doesn’t suit us, it bothers us, when we want to reply and we are not interested in listening, but only in answering.

We listen when we wait our turn to answer a question when someone shares an experience when news about politics appears because it influences our future when it is an interesting topic when a child speaks very mature and beautifully with his parents then we listen!

Listen vs hear (opposite poles of effective communication)

Communication is a primary way of externalizing the human, it is the essence of all things, facts and actions, it is the way “through which people get to know each other and get to learn new things about each other.

Communication is the way we demonstrate our superiority, as living beings, and it is also the way we come to gain physical and mental experience on earth, in a society or group we belong to.

By trying, through communication, to get close to the essence of other people’s souls, we have a lot to learn and all this experience becomes a whole lesson.

Then, this process becomes a circuit of personal development, as we resonate through this experience with ourselves, with our communication needs, with our senses of listening and being listened to, not just hearing and being heard.

Beyond this dichotomy, listening is much harder than being listened to, I say because sometimes people are tempted to express themselves so much that they forget to hand over the baton to others.

You can’t be so confident that you won’t let people talk. You have to listen, learn to listen and pay attention, and then wait for listening. 

Or, you can’t get something without giving that something the first time. It’s like an exchange of data, only here we are talking about experience and values, along with the principle of equality.

Starting from this principle, communication imposes equality. We are all equal in the face of communication.

We all need to communicate, to communicate, to listen and to be listened to.

In other words, it’s easy to hear, but it’s hard to listen. Listening comes from empathy and not everyone can listen.

Empathy is a quality rarely found in a society, because it does not have to develop, given that, in the process of creating it, empathy is often hindered by selfishness.

Listen vs hear (opposite poles of effective communication)

After all, it’s hard to be a good listener, the subject might be boring, your condition might not be right at all, but still, you have to be there, not just physically.

Therefore, I am of the opinion that communication is very easily disturbed in the case of active disobedience.

The person with whom the communication is made must feel that you not only hear what he is saying but also listen to what he is saying, you understand and you are able to react.

Of course, these are big terms. Listening and being listened to are two difficult things to accomplish, and these two rarely intersect.

After all, this is what we, as social beings, are looking for on our way to effective communication: listening.

Or, without listening, there is no understanding, no empathy, no communication, in general.

How to become a better listener

Improve your attitude – analyze yourself, observe the attitude you have when you listen to the interlocutor and do everything possible to improve your skills.

Calm your mind – a calm mind allows the listener to pay more attention to the interlocutor’s words. It is difficult to be a good listener when your mind is distracted by the thoughts you have.

Give up prejudices – when you are in the position of the interlocutor, it is advisable to give up prejudices. These affect your ability to be a good listener.

Listen with empathy – listening with empathy, you will feel the emotion of the interlocutor, and the communication will be better. Empathy connects people both mentally and emotionally.

Practice active listening – to improve communication, it is recommended to try to practice active listening as much as possible.

In this regard, follow the following recommendations:

  • Be present during the discussion, maintain eye contact and pay attention to the facial expressions of the interlocutor
  • Try to be as friendly as possible
  • Don’t focus on what you’re going to say, but rather on what the person you’re talking to is saying
  • Do not interrupt your interlocutor
  • Ask questions to find out details
  • Pay attention to the body language of the interlocutor
  • Do not act as if you know what the interlocutor is going to say, do not anticipate his words and do not continue his sentences.
Listen vs hear (opposite poles of effective communication)

The rules of active listening

Active listening is based on four basic rules:

Try to understand the other before trying to make yourself understood. Trying to make yourself understood involves presenting your own opinions or opinions to the other while trying to understand the other involves an intense effort of listening and understanding.

In order to communicate effectively and to make ourselves understood, it is advisable to first try to understand the other’s point of view. 

Listening involves an effort to gather information and knowledge, and effective communication involves using this information and knowledge to communicate to the other that we have understood, but also to make ourselves understood.

Adopt a non-evaluative attitude. Active listening, sometimes called empathic listening, requires a high degree of emotional intelligence.

When someone shares something important for him/her, it is advisable to refrain from revealing our opinions and judgments before that person shares his / her own opinions about the matter.

Pay full and undistorted attention to the other. When we use active listening, it is advisable to pay attention to what the other person is communicating to us and to try not to be distracted by aspects related to the previous speech of the interlocutor or to aspects external to the conversation. 

At the same time, active listening involves the use of elements of verbal communication (eg minimal encouragement) and nonverbal communication (eye contact, smile, etc.) to show the other that we are attentive to what we are communicating.

Use silence effectively. Using silence in a conversation can be used both to encourage the other person to continue the conversation and to give them enough time to formulate the answer. 

It is advisable not to interrupt our interlocutor when he is speaking. To stimulate the conversation we can use statements of encouragement or minimal encouragement (for example “Oh …”, “I understand …”). 

Listen vs hear (opposite poles of effective communication)

Active listening techniques

Below are a number of techniques that can make it easier to listen to each other’s message. It is not necessary to use them all at once to be good listeners.

Even the use of at least 3 techniques can improve our ability to listen and understand.

Reaffirmation – is a useful technique by which we repeat the message sent by the other in the way we understood. Additional wording is also useful (“So, to understand …”). 

It is advisable to reformulate the message and not to repeat it word for word.

Summary – is a technique by which we synthesize what the other communicated to us in a shorter sentence and which combines the main ideas of his speech. 

In addition to providing the summary, it is advisable to ask clarification questions, such as “Am I right?”, “Is that so?” (“Overall, it seems to me that …. Is that so?”).

Minimal encouragement – consists of sounds, words or phrases that have the role of stimulating the conversation. Their optimal use assures the other that we are with him and that we understand him.

Examples of minimal encouragement: “Aha.”, “Yes?”, “I understand.”, “Continue”, “And then?”.

Reflection – unlike repetition, reflection involves an attempt to discuss both the message conveyed and its emotional aspects (“I think this is very important to you”).

Providing feedback – means providing an answer to another’s speech such as: providing relevant information, personal observations, insights or sharing experiences.

It is advisable to pay attention to the interlocutor’s reaction after providing feedback.

Identifying emotions – by identifying emotions we can help the other to reflect on his emotional states. 

We can identify emotions by making statements about how the person feels while conveying a message.

Given that we cannot know how the other person feels, the phrases to identify emotions should be formulated in the first person, in a subjective way (“I think you feel sad”, “I notice that you feel frustrated when you talk about it”).

Careful Analysis Questions – Through these questions, we challenge the other person to carefully analyze his or her problem and provide us with more relevant and detailed information (“What do you think will happen if you do this?” “What thoughts came to mind? while arguing with him/her”?

Validation statements – these are useful to confirm to the other the authenticity and uniqueness of personal problems, difficulties or emotions.

Validation is based on both empathic listening and encouragement (“I appreciate you wanting to talk to me about these issues,” “I respect you for the courage to share these difficulties with me”).

Effective pause – using the pause between the interlocutor’s speech and our response helps us, as listeners, to formulate effective feedback.

Silence – Used effectively, silence has two advantages: first, it gives the other person the opportunity to think and formulate their answer.

At the same time, it is useful in defusing an unproductive or difficult conversation.

“I” messages – the use of I messages ensures that we focus on the problem and not on the person.

Messages I involve the transmission to others of information about their own thoughts, beliefs, feelings or motives in a personal way, without accusing or criticizing (“I know you have a lot to say, but I need to …”).

Redirection – can be used to change the meaning and themes of the conversation when the topic discussed causes negative reactions to the other (anger, fear, sadness).

Consequence analysis – is closely related to feedback and involves the analysis of the consequences of actions, respectively the lack of initiative or action of the other.

The analysis of the consequences is always based on the message sent by the interlocutor and must be formulated in the form of a question (“What happened the last time you stopped taking the medication prescribed by your doctor?”). 

In addition to these verbal techniques, some experts recommend that in active listening we use certain non-verbal indicators such as using a smile, using the right eye contact (if it is too intense then we scare the interlocutor, and if he is absent then sends the message that we are not interested in it), slightly bending forward or approving through the movement of the head. 

These indicators tend to strengthen the interlocutor’s sense of security and trust in us. 

Listen vs hear (opposite poles of effective communication)

Conclusions

In this article, you learned that:

  • Hearing means receiving sounds and communication. We hear continuously. For example, we write while the radio is on. We listen to music, but we don’t focus on understanding what it says. We were not listening to it!
  • Listening means hearing and paying attention to what you hear. And, in the relationship with other people, it means to be attentive to what the other person says with the intention of understanding the message one transmits.

We hear when the neighbour’s quarrel, when an anxious driver honks, when a child cries too loudly and the mother does not pay attention to him because she knows that because of this he shows up, when and when and when do you see?

We “HEAR” when something doesn’t suit us, it bothers us, when we want to reply and we are not interested in listening, but only in answering.

We listen when we wait our turn to answer a question when someone shares an experience when news about politics appears because it influences our future when it is an interesting topic when a child speaks very mature and beautifully with his parents then we listen!

If you have comments, questions or recommendations on the subject, please let us know!

FAQ on listen vs hear

What makes a good listener?

A good listener is attentive to his caller.

Listen with empathy, understanding, an open-minded year and ask important questions.

A good listener knows that not everything is solved, as if by magic, just by having a conversation. Instead, it takes time and openness.

What makes a bad listener?

A bad listener is a person who often interrupts you, does not really hear what you say and does not make an effort to understand your message.

A bad listener will try to force his or her own opinion or an “ideal solution” on you and will quickly change the subject.

What is the importance of listening?

Good listening is extremely important in any relationship.

By practising active listening you are showing to the other person that you care, that you value their opinion and time.

Knowing how to practice good listening is a quality that not many people possess. 

Is it better to hear or listen?

We cannot say if it is better to hear or listen, because it depends on the situation.

We cannot pay attention to each auditory stimuli out there, however, in a conversation with a person, listening is obviously better. 

What is the difference between to hear and to listen?

The difference between hearing and listening is that hearing means receiving sounds and communication. We hear continuously.

While listening means hearing and paying attention to what you hear.

And, in the relationship with other people, it means to be attentive to what the other person says with the intention of understanding the message one transmits

Further reading

Active Listening, by Carl R. Rogers

Active Listening: Improve Your Conversation Skills, Learn Effective Communication Techniques: Achieve Successful Relationships: With 6 Essential Guidelines, by Joseph Sorensen 

The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction, by Rebecca Z. Shafir MA CCC

Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry

Bibliography

Active Listening, by Carl R. Rogers

Active Listening: Improve Your Conversation Skills, Learn Effective Communication Techniques: Achieve Successful Relationships: With 6 Essential Guidelines, by Joseph Sorensen 

Listen vs hear (opposite poles of effective communication)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.