What is the Difference Between Hearing and Listening?

How do you Define Hearing and Listening? Why and How to Become a Good Listener? Hearing vs Listening in Relationships

You hear, and you listen too, but only a few understand what is the difference between hearing and listening? Many relationships have been severed because one person was not listening or was only hearing but not listening. These are important for healthy and effective communication too. This is why listening is important. Let’s not waste any time and understand the importance of listening and what are the impacts of hearing vs listening in relationships? 

1. How to Define these Terms?

To know what is the difference between hearing and listening, you need to understand their definitions first. Hearing can be defined as the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations through ears. It means that the person’s ears can receive vibrations from the outer ear to the inner ear and then travel to the brain. The brain perceives these vibrations into impulses.

On the other hand, listening means paying attention to what someone is saying or making an effort to hear something, or being alert and listening carefully to what the other person is saying. It also includes the response to what others are saying. (Also read Psychology of Ignoring Someone)

2. What is the Difference Between Hearing and Listening in Communication?

  • Hearing is a type of ability, while listening is a skill.  Hearing means receiving and perceiving the sound through our hearing organs. Hence, you cannot control the sounds you hear, but you can decide what and when to listen.
  • What is the difference between hearing and listening? While you can consider hearing as an involuntary natural process that is carried out by the body through ears and mind, listening is based on your decision and is an involuntary process that involves eyes, ears, mind, touch, emotions, and many other aspects of human nature.
  • You can hear several things but hardly learn anything from those sounds while listening results in gathering knowledge about a subject, point, or information about what someone says.
  • Hearing does not lead to the building of new relationships or improving the old ones. But listening can help do so.
  • From an emotional point of view, hearing does not involve any emotions. But listening depends on how much you are emotionally or psychologically attached to the person you listen to.
  • What is the difference between hearing and listening is that hearing is a passive process that does not require attention. Listening is to remain attentive towards the person who is saying something. You have to pay attention to their words and emotions, along with considering your response.

In short, hearing is a continuous or permanent process of life sometimes, without any purpose, whereas listening is a temporary process backed by some intention. (See 10 Golden Rules of Life)

3. What are the Skills Required to Become a Good Listener?

  • First and foremost, you should be focused on the person to whom you are listening. Zoning out during communication can be taken as a lack of interest in the speaker. (See How to Improve Your Attention Span?)
  • Being curious will help you hear, and learn more, and it will also keep the other person more comfortable and interested in talking to you.
  • You should not speak in between, even if they missed some part of the story. Instead,  wait for the moment they pause or stop. Then, ask the question about that missing part or anything you need to say. You should learn not to interrupt the speaker.

Now that you have some idea about what is the difference between hearing and listening, try to become a better listener. (Also see 7 Signs That You Talk Too Much)

4. Reasons Why Listening is Important?

  • Listening is a skill that helps build trust and respect among the listeners and the speaker alike.
  • The reasons why listening is important are that it will reduce misunderstandings because when you listen things become clear and, you do not believe in assumptions or rumors.
  • It helps in reducing conflicts anger, or resentment. You form a set of assumptions about different people. But when you listen to their part of stories, it enables a sense of empathy that enables you to understand the other person much better.
  • To understand, what is the difference between hearing and listening and what makes listening important, the first thing you should practice is to listen carefully with full concentration. Then, you will ask the right questions that, in turn, will help you to understand things better. You will be able to learn quickly.
  • It will improve productivity, which is also helpful in polishing leadership skills. To become a good leader, you need to listen to every team member rather than hearing and so act accordingly which will make them motivated to give good performances. (See How to Ask Someone to Do Something for You)

5. How to Describe Hearing vs Listening in Relationships?

Everyone wants to be heard when they speak. If you listen to them, they will trust you. All types of relationships require listening from both sides. But if one person only hears and does not listen, things might get ruined.

  • Parents should listen to what their kids have to say and, kids should also respectfully listen to their parent’s advice.
  • Siblings and friends should pay attention to what others need to say because sometimes we are the only ones they can share. 
  • For a sound relationship,  partners should develop a habit of listening to each other. Because when the other person is not listening, then you start losing interest in telling or sharing anything with them. And this eventually increases the distance between us and them. (See What is an Unhealthy Relationship?)

Today, you learned about what is the difference between hearing and listening. You also get to know why listening is important to build strong relationships and how to be a good listener. (Also read PhD Vs PsyD in Psychology)

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