People Hearing without Listening


Advice given from a sibling, parent, or a friend can be a troubling liability and will probably meet resistance from the recipient if it is unwelcome.  They may wish to impart wisdom to aid you, but many times we do not benefit from having another person give us advice unless it is sought out in the first place.  We in defiance of these verbal gems may just be able to figure it out ourselves, yet we are often stifled in the process when others impose their own thoughts upon our concerns.  For me, the purpose for telling others my struggles is not so much in asking them for their opinions and seeking out their counsel, as it is rather to hear myself working through the episode aloud and gain an empathetic allegiance from others knowing that I am perfectly capable of solving most of life’s curve balls.

If indeed they do listen to us, the act of which becomes a powerful talisman, can allow us to become silently supported without intervention of another opinion, and use our creative powers to free ourselves from the binding structures of our own creations.  They wish no harm to us, and they only want to help, but in replying to us by way of offering us guidance can lead to complete communication failure.  They are diminishing their respect for us and only promoting their solutions to “our problems”, something they do not own, nor in most cases have any involvement with.

People become transfixed into solving problems, and often make the mistake of offering their opinions about how to “fix” the problems other people are having when hearing their narratives.  Unfortunately these offerings only bring about a convoluted result.  They diminish the other person in that others often reach out for “understanding”, not necessarily soliciting others for information on “how” to fix the situation they are in.  Many times our situations do not need “fixing”.  Contrarily, I contend that the telling of our agitations to others in the presence of being “understood” elevates the psyche with strong medicinal factors to those that are ailing from these vexations.  It is not that we are incapable, it is only that we need understanding and thus supported in the process of listening over hearing any opinions on what the solutions may be to our healing.



If we lose our audience, we lose our trust in them.  My belief is largely based on my studies as an undergraduate in psychology.  I am disposed to thinking that Carl Rogers’ approach in his consultations was key in establishing a healthy working dynamic in communication.  Rogers believed that a therapist who embodies these three critical and reflexive attitudes will help liberate their client to more confidently express their true feelings without fear of judgement.

  1. Congruence – the willingness to transparently relate to clients without hiding behind a professional or personal facade.
  2. Unconditional positive regard – the therapist offers an acceptance and prizing for their client for who he or she is without conveying disapproving feelings, actions or characteristics and demonstrating a willingness to attentively listen without interruption, judgement or giving advice.
  3. Empathy – the therapist communicates their desire to understand and appreciate their clients perspective.

To do this, the client-centered therapist carefully avoids directly challenging their client’s way of communicating themselves in the session to enable a deeper exploration of the issues most intimate to them and free from external referencing.  Rogers was not prescriptive in telling his clients what to do, but believed that the answers to the patients’ questions were within the patient and not the therapist.  Accordingly the therapists’ role was to create a facilitative, empathic environment wherein the patient could discover the answers for him or herself.  If we draw a line of comparison to human relationships in general, the implications and successful communication dynamics are largely influenced by the work achieved from Rogers.


It is my bias, my understanding, and my study that have led me to conclude that human communications are indeed a highly esteemed skill to employ.  I am by no means an expert, I am by no means an authority, but when my inner fortitude becomes subject for an outsiders quibble (no matter how well intended they may be); and I find myself hearing the feedback from those whom may want to engage me with their psychological summations and epilogue’s, I lose all confidence in their credulity and am fully disenchanted.


“The Sound Of Silence”

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know –
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you.
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.

 Paul Simon