- To give ear to, to hear attentively, or pay attention to
- Listening to someone speak in a conversation, listening to music, listening to birds while bird watching
Why listening matters:
- Listening is a powerful act that allows us to learn and grow through the various sounds the world offers to us. Listening allows us to show love and compassion to others by giving our attention to them and empathizing with their perspectives. Listening also allows us to develop our sense of patience by focusing our attention on understanding others before anything else. There are a number of reasons why listening matters in our lives and how it can help us in our lives, these are only a few.
Hearing vs listening:
- Listening has a close relative that it is often mistaken for. You guessed it, that relative is hearing. Listening and hearing are two entirely different actions. When someone is listening to someone or something, they are lending an attentive and focused ear to that person or thing. Listening is an active action, whereas hearing is a passive action. When someone is hearing something they are not lending their focused attention as they would while listening. Hearing involves a passive ear that picks up sound from passing sources of sound. Examples of hearing: passing cars, chirping birds, projector humming in the room.
- Perhaps the two most common facets of listening are listening to (someone) and listening for (something). While these are very different, both have equal value. Listening to someone generally includes entering a quiet, interpersonal space and paying attention to their words and expressions of them. Listening for something requires alertness and a keen ear to pick out a certain sound amidst other sounds. Listening for sometimes requires professional training (i.e. mix engineers).
- The funny thing about listening is that it doesn’t always have to do with auditory senses. We can listen internally. This can be seen in a few different ways. First, we can listen to our bodies. This generally refers to paying attention to our own health and being responsive to how we are physically feeling. Examples may include going to sleep early when tired, or resting when sick. We can also listen to our own hearts. This example of listening means responding to your innermost desires and dreams. Finally, we can listen to ourselves. This includes being honest with how we truly feel or who we really are and paying attention to what we might be ignoring.
- Because there are so many different facets of listening, “Listening is a sensory practice” in which there is an infinite amount of means. That is to say, we will never come up with all of the different ways in which listening can be used by humans. There are an infinite amount of ways that humans benefit from listening.