Why Listening Is Primarily An Activity Of The Mind & Not The Ears or Eyes

“Listening, like reading, is primarily an activity of the mind, not of the ear or the eye. When the mind is not actively involved in the process, it should be called hearing, not listening…” – Mortimer Adler

One of the most challenging and misunderstood subjects of our time is the art of communication. As we progress through the various grades required for the completion of our education, we are subjected to countless hours of learning how to both read and write in the chosen language of the particular country where we receive our instruction.

Some countries even spend an inordinate amount of effort teaching their children to both speak and write multiple languages. This is remarkable if you think about it. The challenge appears to be that none of these countries as near as I can tell, spend anywhere near the time required to teach the art of “Listening.”

I am not suggesting that the subject is completely ignored. However, it appears upon examination that writing and speaking garner the majority of attention as it comes to formal instruction. Listening is discussed, listening is talked about, but it isn’t formally taught with the same level of comprehension as writing and speaking.

And, as expressed in the quote, I believe more of what is communicated centers around “hearing,” not “listening.” This subject certainly deserves to be thoroughly investigated and I intend to do so. In the meantime, I believe it to be in our best interest to develop to the fullest extent possible, our ability to listen with an actively engaged mind.

I believe we can best serve others by becoming the best listeners we are capable of. And, if we acknowledge listening as a skill that can be either learned or improved upon, we then give ourselves permission to actively engage in the process…

When as adults we either learn new skills, or improve the skills we already possess, we almost naturally want to share what we learn with our children, or the children we come into contact with in our adult lives.

When we move from the passive act of hearing to the active art of listening, everything changes. According to Dr. Kari Miller, PhD, Listening is a conscious process of getting meaning from what we hear. Skillful listening demands the ability to stay focused, resist distractions, and somehow make a meaningful connection with the message being communicated.

As Adults actively engaged in the business of communication and effective listening, the business called LIFE, we will be best served to become the best listeners we are capable of becoming. Therefore, the follow-up message to this one, will focus on sharing some of the methods I discover that we can each use to improve our Listening Skills and therefore improve our Communication Skills.

Author Bio: Bobby Kountz

Bobby‘s a Quote Enthusiast, an Intrapreneur, and an Aspiring Entrepreneur with a Uniquely Positive Perspective on Life. He’s a Writer and Aspiring Author and Inspirational Speaker, a Dedicated Volunteer, and Socially Conscious Change Maker. He can be found on Twitter @bobby_kountz or on anchor.fm/bobby-kountz