Listening versus Hearing

In the Quentin Tartantino film “Pulp Fiction” there is a piece of dialogue that has always resonated for me.

Jules (Samuel L. Jackson):  “In conversation, do you listen or wait to talk?”

Vincent (John Travolta) : “I have to admit that I wait to talk, but I’m trying harder to listen.”

As a communicator, I am certain 80% of my messages are heard but not absorbed.  The recipient needs to be engaged, ready to listen for the message to stick.  Sometimes, people are ready to receive your message.

I’ve been spending more time learning about listening.  We need several senses working together to really listen.  Body language, tone of voice or inflection, readiness/timing and the kind of words being used are all part of communication.

I am not a hater of technology.  You won’t hear me say ‘we’ve lost our ability to effectively communicate’ due to email, texting and social media.  In fact, I think we are communicating more than ever.  However, since so much more information is passed directionally and not face-to-face, we need to work harder to listen.

I’m trying harder to pause before replying to some messages, pause before selecting like or commenting on a post.  In that moment, I am thinking about the context and timing.  I try to use clues like noticing when the message was sent and whether it was created by the individual or just shared.

As someone who always has something to say, I know I will be a better connector if I listen more.

How do you listen?  Please send me your story of a time you waited to talk and heard something important!



6 thoughts on “Listening versus Hearing

  1. I am currently taking a yoga class – Wonderful on oh so many levels! What it is teaching me is how to wait. How to focus and “find your center” THEN begin. It may be physical exercise or being more mindful – waiting, patience with both yourself and with others, giving them the same inner stillness that allows you to listen beyond words. Then you will have found TRUTH.


  2. I need to slow down and hear what people are really saying. For me as you state I am thinking 10 steps ahead to the information I need to impart to someone or the information I need from them (or think I do) that I don’t actually stop to truly hear the messages. Thanks.


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