Hearing and Listening

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Through the years, numerous definitions of listening have been proposed. Perhaps the most useful one defines listening as the process of receiving, attending, and understanding auditory messages; that is, messages transmitted through the medium of sound. Often, the steps of responding and remembering are also included.

Hearing vs. Listening

Listening and hearing are not the same. Hearing is the first stage of listening. Hearing occurs when your ears pick up sound waves which are then transported to your brain. This stage is your sense of hearing.

Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear. If you are not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences. Listening leads to learning.

One of the most important skills for both leaders and participants is listening. Listening is the basis of true communication—listening to oneself to hear the truth of one's heart, and listening to the other, to hear clearly what they are saying. Listening is a skill that we are never finished learning. It is one of the basic skills of body-mind-spirit workshops, where part of the process involves listening to the wisdom of the body. This section concerns one kind of listening that involves an active attentive presence to oneself and to the other person. The purpose of active listening is to provide a safe and caring space for a person to speak and share whatever is going on within them, knowing that they are accepted and understood by the listener. When a person is listened to, they are often empowered to free themselves of feelings, memories, emotions, thoughts, concerns, problems, and wounds of the past. For person suffering traumatic stress, listening brings much comfort and provides the atmosphere for healing. When a person is listened to with care and respect, they are...
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