Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hearing vs. Listening

Did I Hear What I Thought You Said?

If we see the world through the filter of our own perspective, then we hear it through the sound proofing of our own mind.

Several years ago, I suffered a head injury. During that time of recovery, hearing was one of the most difficult things I had to endure. One specialist explained it like this; “You listen with your ears, but you hear with your brain.”

As clouded as my mind was, this simple explanation was beautifully profound.

My children are all adopted. They came into the world with fetal alcohol syndrome and crack addiction. They have had tremendous struggles; the greatest being the ability to truly hear what someone is saying.

I’m coming to see that we all have this struggle. We hear a compliment as a complaint and criticism as disrespect.

I am a talker; I do so for a living.

Some would say that I talk too much, and I would have to agree.

But what I know about myself that most don’t is that I am an amazing listener.. I listen for tone and intonation; for breathing and pauses. I listen to the silence between the thought and I listen to the sighs.

I not only hear exceptionally well (I’ve had it tested,) I truly listen. In fact, a great deal of my talking is to get the other person to speak their heart.  

I listen so intently, that even in a crowded auditorium, a speaker on a stage will often find me and point their comments in my direction. They can see and even feel that I am intently listening.

Listening, not hearing, is an act of empathy. It is about truly feeling what someone else is trying to convey or reflect.

While active listening is about the listener, reflective listening is about the speaker.

Active listening requires that the listener intentionally hear, understand and remember.

Reflective listening, developed by Carl Rogers and the School of Patient Centered Therapy, requires that the listener seeks to understand the speaker’s idea by reflecting that idea back to them. “So, I think I hear you saying?”

If all we hear is what we already think, then we are not listening.

Clean your filter and listen. If you are not sure, reflect it back until you can feel the intention of the speaker.

Then you will truly say to yourself, “What a wonderful world.”

Be you, be well, be listening.

Bertice Berry, PhD

1 comment:

  1. Bertice,

    I receive most of your posts daily and can say this one really inspired me to share it with others. While the reflective piece of the post is of great merit to anyone listening and truly hearing your message, it has posed great challenges for me on a number of occasions. Being conscious of our internal biases, and world views can often prevent even the most conscious-minded individual to stray from the active and reflective pieces in your post, the good news, however, -at least for me- is to always be mindful of our imperfections, pausing after discussion and putting on the lens of the person with whom your speaking. Needless to say, this has resulted for me a number of post discussion analysis, corrections, and yes, apologies. My point here is, whenever you realize you haven't heard what was being said, don't be too proud for self correction. I found that in parenting we oftentimes miss this vital tenet to passing on good life-lessons to our young. They can actually see what we don't always hear. Thanks for yout posts. they continue to be inspirational in more ways than you can imagine.