You’ll be amazed if you take just a few minutes to think about the difference between hearing and listening.
The difference is subtle, nuanced and yet…a very big deal. For starters:
- Hearing is passive, involuntary and happens automatically. It’s part of our sensory experience.
- Listening is more complex. It requires conscious effort and the empathic act of trying to make sense of what is being heard.
When we’ve learned to listen to our own thoughts and feelings as well as those of others, the feeling is that of being understood.
It soothes our central nervous system. When we find ourselves listening…really listening…we’re not trying to find a solution.
We’re just listening.
We’re comfortable with witnessing thoughts and emotions as they arise; our own or someone else’s.
There are times…when we’re listening to someone else…we can get triggered or distracted.
We start advising, problem solving or pushing our own agenda.
Instead…and this is difficult…we can learn to step back and create the space that’s required in order to feel heard and understood.
When we do these things in parallel, listen to ourselves AND to each other, we create more safety in our relationships.
It’s how we can make room for the intimate conversations we all long for.