Hearing vs. listening essay

Hearing refers to the ability of the person to detect sound through the ears auditory system. It operates in two facets which is the mechanical behavior of the ear or its auditory system and the neurological processing of information identification and reception. The mechanics of hearing could be as straightforward as its mechanical definition. The only difference in reception is the action of the brain and how it interprets sound. The mechanical process is the beginning of the perception of sounds largely dependent on the variability of the listening skills of a person that deals with its sensitivity and hearing accuracy.

People are also able to locate the direction of a sound almost accurately. Source location is mainly determined how soon it reached one’s left or right ear and by regard of its volume. Hearing helps one to learn his own environment and communicate with each other definitely affecting emotions when they get to hear stories. Ears do us more than just hearing sounds, it keeps us our balance in life simply by hearing and understanding what we hear. Without the ability to hear sounds it will be difficult for man to shape the message and solicit response.

Definitely people need to hear to be able to speak and communicate and in its abnormality socialization and education will be quite expensive requiring special skills and equipment to accelerate and help individual interpretation skills. Special techniques on speech reading may be required as such as lip reading, gestures or sign language interpretation, and ascertaining the meaning of facial expressions. Listening is an act of understanding what people are trying to communicate with us.

Listening means hearing and interpreting messages to its real meaning as the sender intended it to be interpreted done by decoding feelings, thoughts and opinions effectively after the message has been delivered to our system. Message comprehension will then differ according to the sociopsychological context of the person and the sharpness of its auditory system to perceive the sound adequately. Sociopsychological components refer to the way a person sees and interprets things based from his culture, social norms, and beliefs affecting his thought, behavior and opinion on certain things.

During the process of listening, the receiver evaluates what is being said based on his beliefs and formulates corresponding rebuttal or response with the assumption that he hear and understand correctly what the other person is trying to relay to him. Listening actively varies on the communication and listening skills of the person for purposes of knowledge and social interaction which means addressing the appropriate elements of the discussion by acknowledging the emotions and feelings of the one talking. This is the main distinction between hearing and listening.

It is like merely hearing the words and really listening for the sent messages which makes us act or respond on the basis of our level of understanding. Mostly being too passive would mean being preoccupied and not listening but only hearing what the other person is talking. In active listening we prevent misunderstanding and development of grievance to war. When we fail to listen, we fail to acknowledge and hear what the other person is trying to tell us thus losing the main viewpoint and alternatives in the absence of accuracy.

When we hear we simply master receiving the sound through our auditory system. When we talk and listen, we do it by maintaining eye contact, effective body language, and reflecting appropriate facial expression to validate the message and accurately get the message across. Hearing is a purely physical activity (Hargie & Dickson 2004) while listening is both a mental and emotional process. Getting the message across the recipient is very important like when we talk about our personal and domestic problems.

Frustrations often envelops us when we try to unload burden by sharing and plainly talking about the problem to a person who fails to understand that he only needs to listen and sympathize with us. Empathy is very important to its literal meaning and a lot of people are not practicing it when they get the chance of acting as confidante. It is quite a surprise how few people can comprehend what the real problem is during the interaction since they will start to give advices you are not soliciting and making feedbacks that is very much in contrary to the message you want them to perceive and understand.

It is like they are not processing in their membranes what they are hearing. It is a kind of hearing but not listening syndrome which is very common to people who only feels and see themselves in a lot of things and fails to relate with the problem of the people knocking at their very doors. This is the very experience I can closely relate on the difference between hearing and listening that is universally acceptable and is widely happening in our daily lives.


Hargie, O. & Dickson, D. (2004). Skilled interpersonal communication: Research, theory, and practice. New York, NY: Routledge.