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The Paradox of Listening and Hearing

Updated on November 23, 2014

Listening means more than you have heard. Do you hear me? You are not hearing what I’m saying, listen to me!

Hearing makes listening serious—how serious is it? Perhaps it is serious enough to debate the meaning of the two. They essentially mean perceiving sound, arriving at the correct perspective after hearing and exercising the appropriate sense and judgment from listening to what you heard. Attentiveness, retentiveness, reflectiveness, and reactiveness are what these two evoke. They cannot be separated or divided, they go together.

Let’s consider how serious the two impact scenarios in life.

“That last step is loose.”

“Take the forked path to the right when you get to Death Man Trail because the bridge to the left is out.

“There are donuts in the conference room.”

So, how serious is hearing and listening? It is as serious as needing all your senses working. Congruently, hearing and listening are the only unavoidable utilities in life that will always be present, without question. They are the only words that associate with someone all their waking hours, without being selected or chosen. When it comes to these two, one only decides provisions to avoid the automatic effect; they may plug their ears or simply decide to not listen properly.

When questions come about regarding the two, they query into revealing whether you are hearing impaired, or if you are listening? But, no one ever decides the actual art of hearing and listening. It is all decided before you get here by secret invisible factors from invisible genetics, where determination to how well your ears perceive sound and whether you will have good listening ability to allow you the proper concentration was already set; meaning your range and your potential for attentiveness.

In actual, listening and hearing reside synonymously out in the atmosphere somewhere awaiting its appropriate application; waiting to be pulled down for its associated use. One can’t say “listen” if there is nothing to “hear.” Listening and hearing are gigantically pluralistic. Both represent subjects with potential to stake or make one’s life daily, eternally. Testing, testing: Are you listening; do you hear me?

These two utilities, listening and hearing involves endless apertures, they exist everywhere at all time. No one has ever had the occasion to not hear something in their awakening hours whether listening or not. You will hear no matter, but listening derives options called adherence and deciphering.

“I heard you and I don’t like what you said.”

Hearing often associate filtering, automatically or inadvertently and can result omission, altogether. These two utilities, hearing and listening involves more than acoustics; they involve perspective, deployment, and they stake claim to the essential five senses:

“Do you [hear] that crackling, something is about to happen.

“Do you [smell] it; run the forest is burning?”

“There are sharks. Do you [see] them? Get out of the water!

“If you [feel] thistles scratching you on this path, take a detour.”

“The museum guide said do not [touch] the exhibits.”

So, there you have it, essentially, listening and hearing involves all the senses, takes up all of your awakening hours and requires something of you; audible adequacy, talent in perspective reasoning, scrutiny and most essential listening to what you hear.

It is that serious and these words have spun some debating whether people know how to listen to what they hear and whether listening needs to be taught. In their complicity they are words that seem to imply something automatic and simple, period. However, there is no denying there has been, and continues to be debating over what hearing and listening means. The debate is whether people hear correctly when they are listening and whether people actually listen so they can hear, and when they hear something, whether they are actually listening, and do people need a lessons in listening to what they hear? Although, it would seem they necessarily, would not require debate because simply stated, these utilities purely and repeatedly contribute to actionable prospects, you either hear or you don’t, you either know how to listen, or you don’t. They are exclusive to what they mean, even if they are debated.

Alert. Have you ever heard “Read this and listen to the tone,” congruously; these two genres involve something inconsumable and absolutely proving you even have to listen when you read and hear what the writing is saying.

Let’s listen further. Do you hear me? Listening correctly means all the measures to the volume have to end aural; you have to hear it and receive it clear, if not loud. Case-and-point, our most famous astronaut, Neil Armstrong ended on the opposite side of an aural situation. He revealed it happened when he made his most infamous quote, he advised he said the “a” that the public never heard in the words expressing his famous achievement. Was the public not listening carefully to what was actually said? So, here we see another element to hearing and listening, resulting consequences from Neil not actually being heard for his intended expression? It could be asked, if everything had been heard, could or would the public reaction have ended differently. It appears possible when the meaning of his quote is examined. His expression in its noted form somewhat delimit his accomplishment. The exact moment he spoke it, it should have been exclusively to his actions and what he (not mankind) had accomplished at that moment of his verbal rendering. Who would think not listening or not hearing one little alphabet, [“a”] would delimit his exclusiveness for achieving something at a moment that should have been exclusive to him. Instead, further to Neil’s error, I inform you this is what the public heard “One small step for man…” essentially causing the exclusive act [walking on the moon] only he performed at that moment to sound inclusive of mankind. His act at that very moment should have been dedicated exclusively to himself and not to mankind, and the failure was all because we did not hear that “a” and instead it appeared all of mankind was credited with Neil’s “one small step…” and not appropriately consigned to “one giant leap…” This is point proof of how listening not only relies on deciphering but on hearing it all. The extension of these words grows as they associate much more than that which meets the ear. Both hearing and listening relies also upon how it’s said, whether loudly or softly. Fundamentally, saying it delegates a reaction and consequences based on how one listens to what they hear; anyone can hear, but listening takes skill.

“One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Whether we debate or dissect it, however many ways, what is, and remains so, is listening is maximum to life.

Listening and hearing are the only entities that are never left out of any aspect of life. You listen when it’s quiet. “Listen, do you hear that?” No, I don’t hear anything.” That’s just what I mean, it’s quiet I don’t hear anything.” Have you ever heard words like this? The inference is, there is always something to listen for and when you listen you hear something or hear there is nothing to hear. Both of these word genera elicits what it means to hear and listen. Essentially, hearing and listening delegates as follows; the act or process of perceiving sounds; to listen and consider. If you hear but do not listen you cannot properly consider what you have heard. And, if you react to what you heard but you gave inadequate attention to listening, your reaction potentially will be unsuited for what was said, for what you should have heard.

Surely, it cannot be over emphasized that one lives with little choice but to hear but often listening escapes range. Listening is supposed to pin one to being direct to deliberately attentive and delegated to a committed alertness. You will hear as surely as you live, but you may oscillate when it comes to listening. It is a present and constant demanding genre that’s often not given its due as it associates with hearing. Many may not realized it requires the filtering of what is heard and being attentive to what needs to be considered which should be carefully decided. Listening is often not as automatic as hearing which somewhat leaves one no choice; clamor is constant, but listening has to defy inadvertent selectiveness and result a deliberateness. How often have you heard? “Did you hear me; I didn’t mean that; listen this is what I said.” These worded scenarios associate the skill of listening to hearing. It is a skill as surely as it is taught and gratitude should be extended to those who teach it.

Listening as it connects to hearing has the capacity to unite or separate. Take accounts of listening from dialog resulting two separate reactions:

“Did you hear that speech he made? He’s right. He has made me feel embarrassed over my past actions. I’m going to change my ways to make amends with my brothers. I agree with him, we do need to be more united”.


“Did you hear him try to tell us how we should feel? I will feel however I want to. I don’t think he is right and what he is saying doesn’t make me change my mind, he has made me never want to unite with my brothers, ever”.

Therefore, in an analysis of said accounts, it is wondered if one does not come to a particular reasoning, does it mean they did not listen to what they heard, or does one hear differently? Will one come to the same perspective if one engages the same listening skill after hearing the same thing? Is it possible? Some answers are not clear, but what is clear is after hearing takes place, listening skills will decide the reaction and consequences. Let’s hope one has good hearing ears and one know how to correctly apply listening skills.

A pertinent note: Hearing can result a defensiveness that interferes with listening.

Then, we consider the almost comical side of such serious utilities awaiting delegated and proper endorsements. Let’s recall the story of something whispered at one end of a line of individuals and passed along to the end of that line—well I can only say if the individuals are not trained soldiers of focus and discipline, let’s hope nothing essential was at stake when the last individual repeated what was said to the first individual.

Principally, there is positive proof of how important listening is, and we know when you don’t hear, you can’t listen. That’s why we have been told how to do it and why to do it by professionals from professional institution; we are given steps to achieving it and we have witnessed consequences from a failure of hearing, as intended for what was meant. Ultimately potential consequences lay threatening when others define how we meant it based on their failed listening skills, lacking perspective, perception, analysis, and vision correlated to ours.

Concurrently to being important, it all means more than a cup-full. Its elements, communicating, visual focusing, attentiveness, concentrating, understanding, mannerisms, personal paraphrasing are eternal, but keep in mind there are even more elements. Therefore, let’s at least pull two more down off the ledge; empathy and sympathy. Do you hear me?


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