The Art of Listening beyond Hearing

Listen up! Listening is a mastery, it is an area of expertise and that is why we would be considering this art and not just the act which is hearing.

Words are received as sounds; they vibrate through our ears. In order to understand these words- which is the end goal of listening, the message has to be interpreted by our brain and connect to our mind to give uncompromised understanding to the listener. And all of these cannot happen without our permission and willingness.

A common misconception is to think that the art of listening can only happen when we have someone before us, speaking actual words. It might interest you to know that great listeners account to listen to so many things; the rhythm of the wind as it blows the branches of the tree, the few distinct voices from an indistinct chaos, the unspoken words of a book, and above all, they listen to themselves.

If anything is beautiful in the process of communication, listening is.

“Words fail me”. I am certain this phrase is not unfamiliar but it is rather amusing that what follows after this phrase is usually a long epistle that is mosaicked with clusters of words, which at the end of the day might not pass across the intended message or in total be an overhype.

Dear humans, when “words fail you” next time, simply say the little you can, take the listening position and give room for the conversation to go on from another end.

Some other people are caught in the entanglement of being a ‘good communicator’, hence they are often tempted to think that people always want to hear them talk while in reality, people only want to hear them talk after they have understood the part that needs to be talked about.

Scenarios where Listening matters a lot

In Prayers

Because of the sacredness of prayer, we often as humans think that God really cannot speak the language that we understand or in a way that we would understand, or even more that He would answer us whenever deem fit, hence that moment of prayer is not for expecting response but to roll out our requests. But we must know that prayer could be all about sitting in silence and waiting on God – Psalm 62:1. Moreover, the bible tells us in Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”. You can read this piece, which I find very insightful.

In new or conflicting scenarios

New always comes with unfamiliarity, uncertainty and can sometimes be a little confusing but be calming down, lol😄. You can get through this by intentionally listening to the guidelines (oral, written or abstract) that comes with the new situation and try to fill up the knowledge gap by asking questions only after you have listened. Nothing seems more infuriating for an employer than an employee that keeps asking questions that had been earlier addressed. This shows a poor articulating and listening skill.

When you want to encourage someone to be more outspoken

We all have that friend, sister, brother, colleague or close pal that shies away from speaking, even if there is only one audience. Lol. I can feel your pain especially because I used to be there– the introverted side.

But yeah, some good folks helped me out, by giving me their listening ears and making me feel like the few words I spilled actually matter. And yeah, from talking to one person, I grew and summoned courage to talk to more people and gradually progressed up the ladder. This short narrative definitely cannot do justice to explain how the listener felt. Listening to someone who literally had no words, or in short, “words failed her.” But overall, the seed sown has come to grow beyond what the sower ever imagined it to be.

The point of this story is to give people the chance to talk to you and please, truly listen to them. If not, you would end up complicating the issue altogether. Read my point on the importance of listening, while talking to a depressed friend.

When Listening is Secondary

Short gist: no one is tagged a listener or a speaker from birth, hence we need to take on different roles as it fits the scenario.


Imagine yourself in a burning room and you do not know how to put out the fire, what would you do? I can bet you would definitely not be listening or watching the fire rage. 

This is an illustration but there are truly situations (health, emotions, finances etc) that simulate this illustration. The best thing is to speak up at this point. 


When there is a misconception concerning you, try to get the full information about it and seek the best situation to address it. Never leave public misconceptions, especially one that is core to your survival, to be sorted by chance, speak up!


When you are in the position to pass knowledge across, do take your end effectively. Remember that two listeners does not make an effective conversation, neither does two speakers or teachers as it applies in this case.

To wrap this up, I will leave you with a line from Beyonce: “Listen to the sound from deep within.”

What’s your plan to become a better listener each day?


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