The Difference Between Hearing And Listening: How Each Impacts Mental Health And Relationships

Has anyone told you: “You might be hearing me, but you’re not listening to me”?


If you’re familiar with that expression, there’s a high chance that you’ve heard a word to know about the distinction between listening and hearing.

Listening to what people say, and hearing their words are not identical. There are major differences between the two. Listening is more work than hearing; it’s essential that we have people around us who listen to us and be able to listen to them.


Human activities are all intertwined with listening. It’s impossible to imagine life without being able to listen. However, many listeners confuse hearing with listening and suffer the devastating consequences. In reality, listening is a mental process, while hearing can be physical. When it comes to communication, listening accomplishes the tasks and not hearing. So, we need to know the difference between them and gain the benefits that come with them.

What is Hearing?

The process involved in hearing sounds is essential to the concept of hearing. According to Merriam Webster, hearing refers to one of the “process, function, or power of receiving sound; specifically: the unique sense through which noises and tones are received as stimuli.”

Hearing is a non-sensical physical activity that is based on hearing. It only requires one sense. It does not require concentration. Hearing is like data collection. We hear words and sounds throughout the day, even when we aren’t paying attention to them.

What is Listening?

Listening is paying attention to the sounds and words that you hear to comprehend their meaning and generate a reaction. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary listening, it is “to hear anything with careful attention.” Listening is an active, conscious process that requires many senses.


Listening is a choice, and one can decide whether or not to listen. It’s an active process when you decide to listen.

Listening Isn’t All About Words.

When we are listening to an individual, we don’t simply listen to their words and interpret them; we should also be able to discern the tone of their voice as well as their volume and speed. If we are familiar with someone and are able to draw on this information to determine their mood. For instance, they could talk more quickly when they are anxious.

Non-verbal communication is characterized by eye contact, gestures, body language, and facial expressions regardless of whether someone is playing, crying, or doing anything else that conveys something to us without the use of words. It may be able to tell us more than the spoken word.

Active Listening

It is possible that we have heard the phrase “active listening” in the past but did not know exactly what it means. It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone, but the great thing is that it’s an ability that can be improved with time.

When we’re attentive and paying attention, we pay attention to the person speaking to us and ensure that we understand exactly the message they’re trying to convey. We allow the speaker to speak for a while and make sure not to interrupt. If we aren’t sure about what they’ve said, We ask questions, and often we’ll make a note of what the speaker spoke in our own language to confirm our understanding.

Listening actively means that we are actively engaged with the discussion.

Listening and hearing: How they impact mental health

You now know your answer to “What is the difference between hearing and listening?” It’s important to know how listening differs from hearing and how both impact the mental health of a person.

Impact of Listening and Hearing on your mental health

Hearing is crucial for mental health.

One of the five senses, hearing, is a factor in mental health, even if it’s an inactive process. 

Psychological stress and social isolation are also associated with suicidal ideas, which suggests that hearing loss may make it difficult to maintain relationships and adversely affect mental well-being.

Hearing is crucial for mental health since hearing what people are saying is an essential requirement to be able to listen.

Listening is crucial for mental health.

Hearing and the ability to listen in relationships are distinct concepts; each is essential to mental well-being. Listening is crucial since a communication issue will likely occur if you aren’t paying attention to others.

This could lead to anger or irritability and even conflict in your relationships, which can cause stress and affect your mental well-being.

However, it is when you are more attentive and a better listener, your relationships are more likely to improve, which will make your life more enjoyable as well as provide you with more social connections and promote your mental well-being.

Active listening enhances the understanding between two individuals and strengthens relationships.

What makes listening and hearing essential to a person’s well-being?

Hearing, as well as listening, are essential to an individual’s well-being due to the following reasons:

  • They enable people to connect with each other and build relationships.
  • Listening especially can help with solving conflicts.
  • Being in a position to communicate and listen effectively is crucial for building connections that support people and helps reduce loneliness.
  • Making connections that are strong through listening can prevent anxiety and depression.

Read More: Pessimism vs. Optimism: How Mindset Impacts Wellbeing

Read More: [Fixed] How to Be an Open-Minded Person

Read More: How Emotionally Intelligent Are You, and How to Build it?

How can you listen better in relationships?

Since listening is crucial in relational functioning and overall well-being, It’s important to develop the skills to become more attentive.

Listen Better in Relationship

Consider the suggestions below to find out how you can enhance listening skills in the context of a relationship:

Give your full attention.

Sometimes, we don’t understand what our companion is trying to convey to us because we’re distracted by other activities like our smartphones, television, or whatever else we are doing.

If you’d like to become more attentive, then you must focus on the subject. Remove all distractions so that you are able to focus on the person who is speaking to you.

Make sure you are focused on the content and your emotions.

If you’re looking to learn how to better listen to someone in relationships, you should be able to discern the meaning behind what one person is saying and also their emotions.

Try to comprehend what your partner is saying and how they feel.

People tend to feel that you’ve listened to them if you display an understanding of their emotions.

Rethink them

It’s not just vital to attempt to comprehend the emotions of your partner when they speak about you. However, it’s important to also reflect on your partner’s feelings to ensure that you are aware of your feelings.

For example, when your friend has spoken to you, you could say, “It sounds like you are feeling tense about the situation at work.”

It shows that you are concerned about their feelings. You also allow them to correct themselves if they make a mistake in what they say. By following this advice, you can set an example of a great listener.

Ask questions.

When you ask questions regarding the things someone is telling you, it indicates that you are interested and truly take an interest in what they are saying.

In addition, asking questions can make you a more attentive listener since it keeps your attention on the conversation and helps you to get the greatest understanding from the person you’re speaking to.

Don’t be rushed into the conversation.

It is sometimes human nature to get into the conversation or talk all you can in the shortest amount of time possible, but it’s easy to listen when you are NOT rushing the conversation.


Listening and hearing are both necessary to communicate, but the distinction between hearing vs. hearing in relationships lies in the fact that hearing is a passive procedure and listening is active.

Most people hear without thinking; however, listening requires being conscious of paying attention and being curious about what someone else is saying.

If you can enhance your listening skills in relationships, you’ll likely discover that communication is easier. Your relationships will improve, which will improve your mental well-being.

The difference between hearing and listening | Pauline Oliveros | TEDxIndianapolis
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