Listening vs. Hearing

Caitlin Henry

A student following our advice to try and listen more.
Samantha Kellogg
A student following our advice to try and listen more.

The world is made of constant chatter, but no one seems to be listening. The flaw found in most conversations today is that people are not listening to what the other person is saying, but waiting for their own turn to talk. We do not listen, we wait until it is our turn to talk- and there’s a big difference. Listening takes patience, and in a world of instant everything it has become a rare quality.

Most people say they interrupt because they are so excited about the topic, but does that excuse offending the other person? They could be just as excited. The truth is, conversations have become a one-up competition. People spend the time in which the other person is speaking to brainstorm what to say next, instead of listening, and then interrupt at the soonest possible moment. We feel the need to interrupt because as our thoughts come together, we feel if they aren’t shared quickly they’ll be lost forever and forgotten. However, leaving another person’s comment unfinished is unfair to them. Each person is trying to beat the last speaker’s story or comment, which can lead to a stimulating conversation only in moderation.

Being a good listener is a golden quality for a friend to have, because sometimes people just need someone to listen. If you go to your friend with a problem and all they do is talk about themselves, what good is that? It can make someone feel dejected and as if their problems are unimportant.

Personally, I never realized what a problem it was until I made a friend who is truly a superb listener. Previously talking to certain friends left me feeling like it was an empty conversation, just about “stuff and things” and neither party really connected on anything. Talking to someone who could listen and trying to be a good listener myself built the base for conversations that made a real impression.

It’s the sort of quality that gains trust and respect quickly, because listening is considered an “art”. The reality is that with a little work anyone can become a great listener and it becomes a win-win situation. It can help you make an educated decision, learn new things, and make you a better leader. So next time you have a conversation, try to take a breath and listen, because the results could be astounding.