unlock hidden, untapped and unrealized potential

Do You HEAR Me? The Difference between Listening and Hearing

Written by Rebecca Okamoto on March 23, 2014

"Those who have ears, let them hear" Matthew 13:9

Is there a difference between listening and hearing? How many times have you said, "Are you LISTENING to me?" or "Did you HEAR what I said?"

I think there is a difference. I think we often listen without hearing what is being said. In other words, listening is about processing the sound, and hearing is about internalizing the message.

I asked some Evoke.pro contributors what they thought the difference was. Take a look. What's interesting is that while everyone does not have the same definition, everyone thought there was a difference.

What do you hear when people speak?

Rev. Toshio Okamoto (retired) Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Listening is to "tune in" to what's being said; hearing is to be "impacted" by what your antenna has picked up.

Jim Keighley, VP Engineering & Maintenance, The Kraft Foods Group

Listening is hearing what someone meant - not what they said.

Kenal Kothari, Group Manager, Microsoft Corporation

I came across these statements from Seth Godin from his blog post Two Ways to Listen

You can listen to what people say. But you will be far more effective if you listen to what people do.

Actions speak of character. Being attentive to what people do provides a lot more insights into their attributes than just listening. In some cases, words can be deceiving.

Paul Smith, Keynote speaker, Author

I definitely think there is a difference. And I think you know and express that difference well already. However, I think you have it backwards.

To HEAR something is more a biological function of your brain processing sound waves that fall on your ears.

To LISTEN, means to be paying attention, understanding, and focusing, and even to respond appropriately.

Pastor David Davis, West Region VP of the Michigan District: Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

To listen is an auditory experience. Sounds are made. Sounds are received.

To hear is far more complex. Hearing includes three not two things: auditory experience, intellectual understanding, but then also appropriate action.

Two sons listen to their dad tell them to pick up their rooms. The son who does not has not heard. The son who does has heard.

Interested in improving your listening? Take a look at How NOT to Listen - One Habit that's Not Helping You

« Previous Article More The Career Toolbox Articles
All Articles
Next Article »