Are You Listening, Or Just Hearing?

If you study the effect of music on the brain at all, then the concept of listening and hearing being different is not a new one. This theory holds true in the study of psychology as well. Listening and hearing are two very different things, one active (listening) and one passive (hearing).

What’s the difference? You hear everything. Everything around you, every conversation, every bit of white noise – it all goes into your ears unfiltered. Half of the things you hear you don’t even notice unless they disappear, such as a sudden blanket of silence being the first thing you notice about a daytime power outage as all appliances and machines stop in unison. To listen, really listen, takes talent. It takes the ability to filter out all of the white noise around you and hone in on what’s important. It takes an ability to retain and filter information, to generate an appropriate response.

The best business people are great listeners. I was talking to a relatively new business person the other day, giving advice and assistance, and I realized what an exercise in futility it was becoming, as I’d had this same conversation with this person every month for the last several. That was a red flag to me that the person should not be their own boss – an inability to listen, absorb and apply information; but it also meant I hadn’t been using my full listening potential in that ongoing conversation either – I’d allowed the hum of a busy schedule to tune out the finer points of global listening, and had missed the cues that would have kept me from wasting more time repeating valuable advice no one was absorbing.

Global listening is a concept that takes listening beyond the ear. Once you master the art of active listening in conversations, being able to put it in practice by absorbing all of the information available to us, filtering it according to your active listening and apply it to your business and relationships, your business will soar (and so will you). Don’t get me wrong – active listening is hard, and global listening is even harder. I know few people who have truly “mastered” either, but there are many who do it well, practice daily and constantly strive to be better.

In the online world where these adaptive media tools are changing and expanding by the minute, and where boundaries are nonexistent, you listen or hear as well. This becomes part of the global listening technique, being able to filter your information fire hose in such a way that it enhances your off line listening. Everyone talks about engagement techniques, and “joining the conversation”, but that is only scratching the surface – the way you listen is, in the end, much more important for your success. Your competitors and clients and colleagues are out there giving away encyclopedias full of information, needs, and more. Be the one who listens.

Treat every day like a symphony, and take time to listen to every part.

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