Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hear, Hear, Hear, and Hear

"I hear you!" I say to my wife. "But you don't hear me!" is the reply.

"Did you hear me?" I ask my son as he continues to play and doesn't make a move towards going to bed.

I believe there are four definitions for hearing and it is the play between them that causes a lot of the communication errors in our lives. We hear but we don't hear. So here's my hear definitions and levels of hearing:

To hear at the surface level is to simple have someone's auditory waves go through our ears and into our brain. Often we don't even pay attention to what we hear at this level. We hear but it doesn't "sink in" or it "goes in one ear and out the other" or we simply tune it out as background noise. This is what husbands do during game time when their response is an unintelligible "un-huh."

At the next level of hearing we have what is called "listening." Now this is deeper than the first level of hearing because this involves the engagement of your mind. To get to this level of hearing you want to make eye contact. Husbands and wives, parents and kids need to get the attention of the other person, make eye contact and THEN say what they need to say. The mind is engaged and "thinking about" what it just heard.

The next level of hearing is the level of "understanding." At this level what the other person is saying is not only heard, not only thought about, but now it is understood. "Ah NOW I hear/understand you" we would say. There are many times where I will look into my wife's eyes and hear what she is saying but simply don't understand it. "I don't get it?" or "What does that mean?" is the response or we ask to repeat it again in different words.

The deepest level of hearing is the "heeding" level. Now this is a tricky one because when someone heeds you there is a sense of obedience attached. When I tell my son to go to bed I EXPECT that he heeds me. That not only does he hear my words, not only do the words sink in, and not only does he understand it, but I expect that he heeds me and DOES IT. This is the biblical "HEAR or israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!" or "I tell you the truth" says Jesus, "whoever HEARS my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life." (John 5:24)
You can see where the communication problems occur. A son hears but doesn't heed. A spouse understands but doesn't agree so does that mean they REALLY don't understand or they just won't heed? Anybody can talk but many simply don't understand.

That is why OVER communication is asked in most situations. I can say something 5 times as an announcement, it is in the Weekly Newsletter, in the weekly email and still there are those who will say, "I never heard about it? Why didn't you tell me?"

Communication is, yes, speaking clearly but that is only 10%. SAYING SOMETHING that sinks in, is understood and heeded is the rest. Communication is, yes, hearing someone but that is only 10%. Focused attention so that you can understand and heed, if necessary, is the rest.

Do you hear what I am saying?

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