Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hearing vs. Listening

Have you ever had a conversation, maybe with a parent or a significant other, during which you poured out your heart and you truly believed that their knowledge of how you thought and felt would change your relationship forever?
And then it didn't.

Ok. Let's say you have never had that conversation. Have you ever heard a song on the radio you've known the words to for years, and realize while you are singing along, that the song is not what you thought because you just realized what the words actually meant?

It is the same feeling.

All along you were hearing that song.  But you never took the time to apply meaning to the lyrics. You were hearing, not listening.

Most people know the difference between hearing and listening, but somehow have the inability to apply it to conversation.

So when I say "I want you to move out."
He hears "I'm angry, wait until tomorrow morning and we will start again."
Even though I mean what I say and if you were listening it would be obvious, you were hearing the words but not applying all the aspects of listening to the conversation.

Consider body language.
If I say "I want you to move out," while hiding under the covers and crying I may just be upset and need time to cool off before approaching the subject again.
If I say it standing in the middle of the room, tall shoulders back, not crying, and helping you pack like a civilized adult, there is a good chance that I meant it.

Consider tone.
If I am irrational and screaming that I want you to leave, I may be angry and need time to cool off.
If it is during a conversation, during which both of us are level toned and calm, there is a good chance that I mean it.

Consider the meaning of the words.
If I say "Get out and leave me alone." I probably  want you to "get out" of the room/house and "leave me alone" until I calm down.
If I say "This relationship isn't working and I think that it is time for you to find a new place to live," that is probably exactly what I mean.

Your conversations my not be as serious as the example, but it paints a clearer picture.  Imagine the problems that could be cured by clear communication. Listen to the ones you love.  It could make all the difference.

Like the first time I realized what Love in an Elevator by Aerosmith was actually about...shocking.

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