Just because you’ve been blessed with the sense of hearing does not mean you’ve been blessed with the skill of listening.
Hearing is in fact one of the five senses. It is merely the act of perceiving sound and receiving sound waves or vibrations through your ear. Unless you’re hearing impaired you likely take that ability for granted. You also seldom stop to think about the difference between hearing someone speak and actually listening to what was said.
The failure to understand that difference is often a fatal mistake for new and emerging leaders.
Listening is the act of hearing a sound and actually understanding what you hear. It usually requires more than just the sense of hearing. Great communicators are great listeners, they use the sense of hearing, seeing, and sense of touch.
Great communicators know that listening is a skill that requires you to stop talking long enough to let the sound you hear go through your brain so it can process the meaning of it.
The best communicators are active listeners. Active listening means also observing what you hear, like the speaker’s body language and emotions, in order to better understand what the speaker is truly saying.
When we fail to listen we lose the ability to understand and interpret what was said. When we fail to listen we create a communication “gap” and we often fill that gap with our personal bias, judgements and experiences. That’s where the “you said this, no I didn’t” arguments usually come from.
Hearing will never build a relationship with anyone. If you want to build relationships with anyone you’ll need to listen to them. When people know you’re interested enough to truly listen to them then they will know enough to know that you also truly care.
And oh by the way, don’t kid yourself; if you’re talking you’re most certainly NOT listening.