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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

there's a difference between hearing and listening.

Dear Starbucks: your misspelling of my name is getting a little out of hand. I can handle "Carly." I can handle "Carlie." I can handle "Karlee." "Karleigh" is pushing it. But seriously, "Corrlie?" That doesn't even have the same vowel sound. Nor does it have many of the right letters. Congratulations, you got the "r" and the "l"correct. Do you want me to give you a gold star? I don't understand why people can misinterpret the things you say so incredibly grotesquely that, if you did not know any better, you would think what they heard was completely unrelated to what you said. Then I realized: there's a difference between hearing and listening. So Mr. Barista at Starbucks, I suggest you start listening to what your customers are saying. We're stuck listening to the damn blenders and your stupid small talk. The least you could do is almost spell my name right.

I think with the fast paced world that we live in, we are constantly hearing things that people are saying, but they almost seem to go in one ear and out the other, maybe making a pit stop in the brain for the slightest moment; but rarely do we ever listen to what they are saying. Hearing is just processing sound waves. Listening is actually digesting the words that people say. I mean, I'll be the first to admit that when my mom asks me to do something 10,000 times I always tell her that I heard her the first time. Which I did. I hear her voice muffled by my closed door and blasting music. But I never really listen to what she says until its convenient for me to actually be able to focus on what she wants me to do.

A lot of the time we are just stuck on autopilot. We have our daily routines, our daily drives from point A to point B, but most of the time we don't even pay attention to what we are doing because it has become so normal and comfortable to us that we can do it without thinking. That's the exact problem. We hear people talking so much that we tend to just tune them out, acknowledge the fact that they are saying something, but not care enough to actually listen. And it's when we are in autopilot that we generally miss important information. It may not be important to us, but it's important to the person saying it.

Challenge yourself to actually listen to what people are saying, not just hearing it. You'll be amazed with what you hear. And maybe you'll actually learn their name... and on the off chance, spell it right...