Hearing vs. Listening

"I HEARD you, Mom", my four year old yells from the other room. Clearly she didn't, because her response had nothing to do with the request I made. But before I dwell on the speck in my daughter's eye, let me be quick to reveal the plank in my own. Often, coworkers will ask if I have a minute to talk through something and I say yes, without ever lifting my head from the computer to acknowledge their presence. I cut off others' questions to answer what I think they are asking. I hear people, but am not always listening. 

In this fast-paced, tech-centered, performance driven, noisy world, listening is a rare and craved characteristic to possess. We are a culture of HEARING, but not truly LISTENING, to the needs/questions/stories of those we do life with. Hearing is easy for me because I can do it while multitasking, but listening requires my whole self. To listen to someone, I need to look into their eyes, watch their body language, and hear their tone. I need to be just as aware of what they are not saying as what they are saying.

Listening is about what others are communicating, more than just what they are speaking. My mom is amazing at the skill of listening. When I call her, no matter what she is doing, she stops, sits down, closes her eyes, and puts aside every distraction to fully involved herself in the happenings of my day.

I would to be more like this. I want respond to others' hearts, more than their mouths. I want to share my life, more than just my words. I desire to be fully engaged and truly LISTEN to others.


Your Turn: How do you intentionally set aside distractions to listen well?