Friday, January 30, 2015

Hearing VS Listening

At Alyssa’s slumber party a few weeks ago, I was in the kitchen making Rice Krispy treats when Alyssa and one of her guests, G came down the stairs.

I don’t remember now what they were saying as they were walking down the stairs but I commented on it at the time.

Alyssa scowled at me and said, “Were you listening to our conversation?”

“No,” I replied, raising an eyebrow at her tone. “I just happened to hear what you were saying as you were walking toward me.”

“What’s the difference?” she asked, still being just a little bit snippy.

I got a little snippy back at her as I explained. “The difference is that if one is listening to what others are saying, they have to be consciously paying attention, trying to discern what’s being said. I just happened to be within hearing distance as you were talking to each other.”

I continued, “If I were listening, I’d have been upstairs with my ear pressed to your bedroom door. Instead, I was standing here, minding my own business, making a snack for you and your friends and just happened to hear what you were saying.”

G listened carefully to my explanation and grinned in understanding.

Alyssa narrowed her eyes, obviously trying to find a hole in my logic. She finally gave up and admitted that my explanation made sense.

Once I had her acceptance, I told her, “You know how sometimes I have to have Olivia repeat something to me? It’s because I might have been hearing the sound of her voice but not listening to her words. Listening is something you have to actively do with your brain. Hearing is just something your ears do even if you’re not paying attention the sounds around you.”

“Huh,” Alyssa said, already bored with the conversation.

She’ll get it someday, even if I have to tie tell her over and over again so that she isn’t just hearing me but also LISTENING to me.

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