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Listening vs Speaking

During a conversation, have you ever wondered if the person was actually listening to you? Yes, he/she might be hearing what your saying, but is he/she actually listening? And how do you know if he/she is listening? There are also times where our minds can wander off during conversation and at times, you may not be able to help it. So, what’s the difference between hearing and listening? In general, hearing requires no effort, you simply stand and hear what the person is saying whereas listening is a conscious choice that requires your full attention and concentration to process what the other person is actually expressing.

Here is a very basic comparison between the two!

Signs that people are not listening:

  1. They’re fidgeting
  2. Their eye contact is too fixed and their heads are too still (usually a conversation will require acknowledgement, hence having at least nods.)
  3. Try to notice their interjections, if they are constantly using “uh huh”, “yea”, then they might not be listening.
  4. Body language ie. Folded arms show a large lack of interest and may mean that they are not listening
  5. Paraphrasing (usually during a conversation, the person might have a simple summary about what you have said, this clearly shows that they’ve listened because they have processed it and managed to put it into their own words.

Many people would think that listening and hearing are the same thing. It would sound kind of weird if someone said “I’m really bad at listening.” Because most people think that its something we just do. In reality, hearing is one of the 5 senses, so it just naturally happens, so the ear processes the sound and passes it to the brain, however the brain does not react to the sound. Listening, however, actually requires you to actively listen, hence you can process the information and give feedback. Effective listening actually is something that needs to be learned. It’s kind of like a skill that needs to be developed. Considering the current working/living environment, its extremely crucial that we have this skill. Here are some tips for effective listening!

  1.  Clear your mind and tune in!
  2. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact
  3. Keep an open mind, don’t make judgment (Don’t just decide that the topic the other person is talking is about is stupid and tune out, listen without jumping to conclusion)
  4. During appropriate moments, give a brief paraphrasing or maybe ask questions to show the speaker that your mentally present
  5. Don’t worry about what you’re going to say next and give your undivided attention to the speaker, if you’re really listening, it will come naturally
  6. Try to learn how to stop fidgeting, texting… during the conversation

Photo Credit: Corey Biaz