Listening and Hearing

The Merriam-Webster dictionary has described hearing as the “process, function, or power of perceiving sound; specifically: the special sense by which noises and tones are received as stimuli.” On the other hand, it defines listening as means “to pay attention to sound; to hear something with thoughtful attention and to give consideration.”  (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2021)

According to a dissertation writing service, it has been rightly said that ‘while hearing is through ears, listening is through the main.’ These are two different activities that involve the use of ears with different outcomes. While hearing is nothing but a sense that helps us receive the sound waves and noise through the ears, listening is when we receive the sound waves and understand them by paying full attention to the words and sentences of the speaker.

Hearing and listening both require us to use our ears, but that is where the connection ends. Hearing is a significant part of the five senses, while listening is by choice to hear and analyze what we want to. For hearing, we just require ears, but to listen, we must also use our other senses to comprehend it correctly.

Listening And Hearing – What Differentiates Them:

Hearing can accurately be defined as the power of perceiving sounds, but listening is the ability to correctly receive and interpret the messages conveyed by another party in the communication.  Many people take hearing and listening to be one activity, but this is not right. There is a big difference between the two; this crucial difference can affect the way we communicate in society.

We can continue to hear even if we do not pay attention. The ears will continue receiving the sound vibrations, but listening is all about paying attention, observing the behavior of the speaker, and adding a message to the sounds to understand what is being said. Listening plays a crucial role in building better relationships with others; we cannot give meaning to the words unless we listen.

How It Works – The Science Of Hearing:

When sound reaches our ear, it is converted from a soundwave to an electrical signal. Soundwaves start at our outer ear and travel through our ear canal until they reach the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. Three tiny bones in our ear receive these vibrations, sending them towards our inner ear. Once in the inner ear, soundwaves go through a series of steps, which end with them becoming electrical signals. These signals are carried to our brain where they get turned into a sound that we can understand.

How It Works – The Science Of Listening:

Listening can rightly be called a psychological process. The way we listen can differ depending on what we are listening to and the related conditions. Listening is also linked to our working memory, long-term memory and vocabulary functions, and attention. When someone speaks, our brain quickly matches their words with those in our vocabulary and helps us understand what they are saying. It can include using the existing knowledge of sounds and filling gaps in the information we already have. It is similar to the process of learning where we try to make sense of what we do not know to comprehend it better.

Key Differences Between Listening And Hearing:



It is the act of perceiving sound and receiving sound waves or vibrations through our ears It is the act of hearing a sound and understanding what we hear
We continue to receive the sounds even if we do not want to Listening requires concentration for the brain to process the meaning from words and sentences
It is just hearing. It is all about knowing.
It makes use of ears; it is one of the five senses. It uses different senses like the senses of hearing, seeing, and sense of touch to deliver the right meaning.
It is a physiological process. It is a psychological process.
It takes place on a subconscious level It takes place on a conscious level
No concentration is required for hearing. It requires concentration.
It is an innate ability. It is a learned skill.
Hearing may or may not play a vital role in developing relationships Listening is considered one of the most important factors that help to develop healthy relationship and communication in persona as well as professional relations
It takes place throughout the day as no action is required by the individual to continue the process or pay attention. It is a temporary state as a lot of effort is required by the listener to avoid getting distracted and pay attention to what is being communicated.
It is a random process. It is intentional as it means to analyze what the other person is saying to make sense.
It is a passive process; we do not need to be actively involved in what we hear as sounds keep on reaching the brain. It is an active process; we must stay alert to make sense of what is being said to come up with the right response.

The concept of attention makes all the difference between hearing and listening.   Most people think of attention as a consciously directed process, but this is not true. Attention is a very conscious process, and it is only when we make efforts to focus that we generate our interest and listen to what the other person is saying.

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Hearing what someone is saying and listening to them is not the same, regardless of what people believe. There are some essential differences between them, and it is crucial to understand these variations to communicate better. Listening can be harder than hearing because it requires focus and time and helps us learn more. However, it is very necessary to take good care of our ears because we cannot listen to how hard we focus. After all, we cannot listen unless we cannot hear.

When we talk about the difference between the two, we must understand that listening is one step ahead of hearing. While hearing is simply the ability to perceive the sound, which is natural and God-given, yet listening is an acquired skill that only a few people process. To differentiate between the two, it is necessary to understand their basic roles and, how they help in communication.