The two words ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ are often used interchangeably but there are several important differences between the two. Hearing is the passive intake of sound while listening is the act of intentionally working to comprehend the sounds you hear.
Hearing Vs Listening
You might be in conversation with someone but your mind drifts to other things you want to do maybe read a book, or just hit the bed after a long day. When your mind drifts away but you are still hearing the other person speak. So hearing is a passive, involuntary, and sensory process in which we perceive sounds.
When you are 100 % involved in the conversation and responding to the other person that is when you are listening. Listening is an active, voluntary, and intentional process that involves making sense of the words you hear. It requires your complete attention and in turn, you may develop an emotional response to what you hear.
Importance Of Hearing in Mental Health
Hearing is an important sense that helps to figure our way in this world. The loss of hearing can lead to anger, social withdrawal, changes in our sense of self-worth, and even depression thus having a profound effect on our mental health.
Importance of Listening in Mental Health
We are social beings and live when we are able to communicate and build connections. Listening helps to develop curiosity, compassion, and empathy. If we are not listening or being listened to it can negatively affect our relationships and can lead to anxiety, feeling of shame, and depression thus disturbing our mental health.
Ways to Become a Better Listener
Lack of listening capabilities can create tension in relationships, difficult to resolve conflicts, and in turn, affect your well-being and mental health. However, there are surely ways to become a better listener, some of which are:
- Having an intention to improve: releasing that you are not good at listening and then practicing to become better at is the first step.
- Be Curious: having an open and curious mindset helps you to listen to others attentively and understand what they are saying.
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness helps you to be more attentive at every task you are doing which will include listening too. Meditation will help you to bring your focus back to the point even in the scenario of listening to someone.
- Put away distractions: When getting into a conversation with someone put away the distractions like your mobile phone to show your complete involvement.
- Let go of assumptions and judgements: When you have formed an opinion about someone you are no longer interested in anything what they say, you close doors to all new information also that they are providing. So do not be judgmental but be open minded.
- Summarize what you hear: Summarizing what you heard in your own words helps to comprehend better.
- Ask questions: Asking relevant open-ended questions shows your interest in the conversation.
- Use Non verbal gestures: Making eye contact, nodding your head shows your involvement in the conversation.
- Try To Validate: Try to validate the other’s persons feelings and thoughts with their history or previous experiences.
- Give advice only if required: At times people only need to be listened to, they are not looking for an advice or a solution. Give advice only if asked for.
A Word From H2FCare
Many a time we believe hearing is, listening. Hearing is just a passive activity while listening is more active and needs complete dedication and involvement. We can put in an effort to become better listeners. This effort will help us connect in a more worthwhile manner and help us improve our relationships with all around us.