Crack open your thesaurus and you will find that "hearing" is listed as a synonym for "listening." I respectively dispute such a link.
I would define "hearing" as perceiving a sound through one's ears, although I guess some car stereos have the bass so cranked up that the sound can actually be felt.
In contrast, I would propose that "listening" entails not only taking in a sound, but then interpreting it to some degree or another.
For example, an individual may hear birds singing. But only when they listen can they discern the difference between a sparrow, robin or cardinal.
When it comes to interacting with other people, a majority of folks are far better at hearing than listening.
If someone is giving you instructions, but you only hear what they're saying because you're fixated on how bad their breath is, how yellow their teeth are or on how long their nose hair is, chances are when it comes time to perform the task you will be in trouble.
It doesn't matter your line of work, if you only hear people instead of listen to them, you could be putting your employment status at risk. If your employed in a sandwich shop and are told by a customer to put pickles on their sandwich, but you instead load it up with jalapenos, that customer may not be the only one with "heartburn" at the end of the day. If a medical professional doesn't listen to his or her patient's symptoms, chances are they will wind up with a "royal pain," too.
After a day of listening to people, sometimes when I get home at night I can be guilty of slipping into the hearing mode. That likely explains why sometimes I have no clue where my wife, Nancy, or our daughter, Anna, area taking off to in the car, when in fact they told me earlier, but I wasn't focused on what they were saying.
While they might tell you otherwise, I like to believe that the instances when I'm hearing my wife and daughter are far fewer than when I'm listening to them.
It's always fun to shock Nancy or Anna by spouting off some random fact they had shared hours if not days earlier.
"See, I was paying attention," I'm fond of crowing.
Of course, I'm not the only one who listens in the Henley household, as Nancy recently illustrated to me.
Truly listening to someone is particularly challenging when the person you are trying to focus on is talking about a subject in which you have little if any interest. For my bride, that topic would be sports.
During the summer she knows to root for the team with the birds on the bat on its uniform, but you will not find her hyperventilating over the condition of St. Louis shortstop Rafael Furcal's right elbow.
Page 2 of 2 - During football season, her interest in sports is not very acute. While I fuss and fume Rams and Chiefs games on Sunday afternoons, Nancy is more inclined to catch a nap in the recliner.
Consequently, I was more than a bit surprised recently when one day over lunch Nancy shared she had been engaging male customers at work in discussions about the Super Bowl.
"Seriously?" I asked. "All right, tell me who is playing in the Super Bowl."
"The 49ers and Ravens," she replied without hesitation, no doubt suppressing the urge to stick her tongue out at me. "See, I listen."
Because I feared having a bowl of tomato soup dumped on my head, I resisted the temptation to probe deeper into her football data banks by asking about Ray Lewis' supposed connection to deer antler extract.
Indeed my wife has been listening.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 900th column by the Courier-Post's award-winning columnist Danny Henley.)