We all desire to be listened to and heard. Active listening creates an intimate connection and lets the other person know that they and their needs are cared about by you.
To hear is to simply do just that - hear. We hear different sounds all around us, all the time. We don't necessarily focus on what we are hearing, we are simply mindful of the sounds. Passive listeners hear the words but don't fully absorb or understand them. Passive listening can lead to misunderstandings, missed opportunities, resentments from the other person as they will know you are not actively listening to them.
To listen actively takes awareness, presence and for many... practice, practice, practice. Active listeners are completely focused on the speaker and understand the meaning of the words, not just the words themselves. Active listeners release all perceptions and judgements of the person who is speaking and focus on what is being expressed. Active listeners maintain eye contact and do not look at their watches or phones.
In a business situation your customers will know and feel you have heard their needs giving them confidence that you are able to provide them the best solutions. In personal relationships, you will experience a deepening awareness and understanding of the other person allowing those relationships to flourish and blossom with ease.