Difference Between Hearing vs Listening

Difference Between Hearing vs Listening

In some cases, receivers or hearers do not get an absolute understanding of the message when there is a barrier that could be external or internal. Hearing vs listening are two distinctive communication skills, usually on the part of a receiver, which are variably performed.

And it is important that both the receiver and the sender of a message understands the difference between listening and hearing to have a successful communication process.

Definition of Hearing

Hearing is defined as the act of receiving sounds through the ear. It is a passive process of getting what is being said by others, or rather receiving general sounds from external forces. And during this process, there could be little or no attention towards the main content of the sound, as much as the ear picking the sounds into the body system then hearing has occurred.

In a situation where there are numerous sounds, undoubtedly, the mind will be ready to separate the most important message if possible, and then translate for necessary actions.

Regardless of the brain’s ability to split and obtain facts in such a polluted environment, there was a complete process of hearing once the sound is being heard and then we can choose to disregard or obtain meaning from it.  

For everyone who has a functioning ear, hearing is inevitable, even while we sleep the body continuously accepts sounds. As we walk around places, we hear the sounds of music or individual human voice around us. This does not automatically imply that we listen to them, we merely heard when we do not need them.

Definition of Listening

Listening is defined as the act of actively obtaining facts and meaning from what is being heard. Unlike hearing, it requires a greater amount of concentration and focus on sounds and messages to obtain the core message of the sender. More than just hearing, listening demands more processes of thinking, attention, analyzing, and decoding messages.

The intention is to get the entire purpose of the message rather than just passively receiving sounds. This requires more functioning organs apart from the human ear, for instance the brain is more active to sound here.

Finally, during this period, it is expected that one does not perform any other activity or receive distracting sounds, the focus is on the sender’s message, and if possible, on the sender as well.

This will permit the core intent of the message to be distinctively decoded by every body organ responsible for hearing. Most intelligent people or students who perform excellently in class are said to be attentive and good listeners during lectures.

Main Differences Between Hearing and Listening

To further understand the difference between hearing and listening, the table below will further show their disparity.

Basis of ComparisonHearingListening
DefinitionHearing is the act of passively receiving sounds through the ear from external sourcesThe act of actively obtaining fact and meaning from what is being heard
OrgansRequires less effort from the brain. Only the ear is expected to be active.Picks sound through the ear and involve other body transmitting and translating organs including the brain for appropriate analysis and interpretation.
ActionNo attention is required and it is involuntaryRequires a voluntary and active mode of participation
EligibilityEveryone who has an active and physically-able earRequires more than an active ear. An attentive mind and willingness are required.
ModeIt is physiologicalIt is psychological

Difference Between Hearing and Listening; Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important to point that listening vs hearing also have undividable characteristics. Both processes pass through the ear and involve the transfer of information between one part to another (the sender and the receiver).

Though the majority of our time is occupied with the mere act of hearing since it is not expected that we give attention to all sounds around us but when it is needed, we can surely listen to what we choose. Finally, to create a balance in relationships and our environment, there is a need for an appropriate understanding of when and how to hear and listen.