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Listening vs. Hearing

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen Covey

Yesterday I took my mother to get fitted for a hearing aid.

In November she turns 80 and her hearing has been in a gradual decline over the last 10 years. She seems checked out in most social situations. She is physically present but in reality, she is somewhere else. She is missing out and she knows it.

My mother is excited about the prospect of hearing again, the birds, the traffic, the trees and the conversations around her. She is excited about reconnecting with her family, by being in the conversation instead of on the outside looking in.

I mentioned this to my brother when I texted him after her appointment. I sent him a picture of her smiling.

His response…….

Great, too bad she never listens.

Got me thinking about how good a listener I am and the difference between hearing and listening.

My ears work pretty well, I am able to pickup noises big and small, and unless you are really mumbling, I can hear most everything.

I hear but do I really listen?

How often am I in conversations, hearing the words, and interpreting them from my perspective, through a lens that suits me. Listening to reply versus listening to understand. Thinking more about how I will respond instead paying attention to the words, the tone, the emotions in front of me, without judgement or assessment.

Just listening, without bias, without ego.

It’s hard.

It’s easier to listen from the edges, to hear the words and then create a story that suits me, that feeds my ego and fuels my judgement.

What would be possible if I opened my ears to listen without judgment, how much more would I hear if I let go of expectations and ego?

What am I missing out on? Where am I an outsider?

My mother gets her hearing aid in 2 weeks. Her hearing will be back to almost normal, but will she listen to what she hears?

Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’m not going to wait until I am 80 to bring awareness to my own listening, I’m going to start that right now.

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