When you listen, what do you hear?

Listening and hearing are not the same thing. The Macquarie Dictionary defines listen as ‘to attend closely for the purpose of hearing’ and hear as ‘to listen to with favour, assent, or compliance …to learn by the ear’.

To truly hear requires that the listener attend closely for the purpose of hearing and in a manner that facilitates learning what the ‘other’ is communicating.

The essence of communication is two people engaged in an effort to relate to one another, but what they are relating to is both their our own psychological self and the psychological self of the other. To truly hear is to remember that the other is often a mirror to unconscious aspects of oneself.

As we engage with the spoken communication of the other, we must engage in a kind of ‘psychological listening’ so as to truly hear what is being communicated and this requires a wide range of personal skills, including:

• To be physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally present.
• To be aware of and understand non-spoken communication; i.e. context, mood, tone of voice, body language etc.
• To possess genuine self-awareness.
• To possess emotional honesty.
• To be empathetic.

The skills required for effective listening are many and varied, but they can be learnt. For further reading please follow this link for access to a booklet titled ‘Active Listening’ from the ‘Ideas into Action Series’.

Andre Zanardo
ID Executive Coach

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