Have you ever watched the waves come up onto the shoreline? If you look very closely, as the swells get closer to shore, the waves come in clusters of three.
The same can be said for listening.
You do this with your ears and eyes. With your ears you take in information that is verbally conveyed to you; you hear the other person’s words. With your (two) eyes you are taking in that person’s behavioral cues and the environment or circumstances in which those behaviors occur. It’d be one thing if someone said, “I love you” and their eyes are doe-like and wide open and staring at you. It’d be another thing if the same “I love you” was conveyed through gritted teeth, a grimacing face, and metered speech. Same words; two different sentiments being conveyed.
The volition (choice) you have in listening is whether or not you will pay attention to what and how things are being conveyed. We’ve all done it at some point. You know … when you are listening but not really hearing the other person. That’s when you are not giving someone your full attention. Your attention is something that you choose to give someone…or not.
If you choose to give someone your full attention, then you have entered into the realm of the third component of listening … the emotional act of listening. I call it the emotional component because this is the realm in which you learn something (either about the person, or him/herself or the situation) that you did not know beforehand.