Hearing is not the same as listening. Usually while listening we not only evaluate the meaning of what we just heard but we also think about what we ourselves want to achieve and if what we heard is conducive or an obstacle to our goals. What this may look like in practice is that we already are in the process of formulating an answer even before the other person has finished speaking yet. So while we are hearing the words we are not fully paying attention to what is being said since our attention is divided between the other and ourself. Because of this, we may miss the deeper meaning that is hidden behind of the words that we heard.
In contrast, Active Listening is when we first listen fully and with empathy to the message and the deeper meaning the other person is trying to convey, after which we paraphrase to see if we have fully understood the message and it’s intent. This is quite a skill and an invaluable asset in your life.
Professor Carl Rogers Ph.D. said of the experience that you get when someone listens to you this way:
“When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without taking responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good. When I have been listened to, when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and go on. It is astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens. How confusions that seem irremediable become relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.”
One of the things you’ll learn through my training is to hear your own deeper needs as well as those of others and to identify and clearly articulate what you are wanting at any given moment. When you focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed, rather than on diagnosing and judging, you discover the depth of your own compassion.
Through the emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others— Empathic Communication fosters respect, attentiveness, and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart. The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.
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