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Listening vs Hearing

Don't you just love the expression "I hear you"?

In my view, it's often used in conversations where the listener has already made up his/her mind, but knows that it will be easier if you think you have been given their full attention!

On the other side, though, there are people who believe that just because they express an opinion or an idea, not actioning it, means they have not been heard.

Another of those really difficult situations to manage.

People in leadership positions (including parents) need to listen and hear what is being said, and try to understand the motivation behind what they are being told.

How many times have you heard about children who, without appearing to study, get through school easily. Its often because they really listen in class and understand the material at source. 


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Active listening includes ensuring that the message is fully grasped.   Ian Mann, in his book Managing with Intent, writes that it is the communicator's responsibility to confirm that there is clarity.   In management, that is true, but it is also true that managers need to dig a little more deeply when they are being given information.

It is also a good idea to create a listening space ie away from a desk and other distractions.

My best listening is away from my computer or other electronic devices!

Practically, there are people who take a long time to share a thought, and sometimes repeat the same thought in a slightly different way.   Many of us tend to get impatient.    This is particularly challenging in a meeting, where a group of people are being delayed by a detailed speaker.   Managing very wordy, woolly conversations as the listener is a skill.   It takes practice and patience.   However, there are times when meetings have to be ended, with a promise to take the matter forward in a smaller group or at a point when there is time to allow the full story to unfold.

I have learned the lesson that if you give people the gift of your attention, you will be pleasantly surprised at what they share with you, and the growth opportunities for both of you.

If you ever watched the TV show, Frasier, about a radio psychiatrist, you will know he started his show with the words "I'm listening".

Sometimes, that's all we need to do, and people will know that they have been heard.



Links, References and Notes

email:      tschroenn@accsys.co.za
twitter:   @TerylSchroenn


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