When it comes to the similarities between listening and hearing, the only one is you use your ears for both. After that, they\u2019re very different. For instance, have you ever had an employee come in your office and you\u2019re on the computer? You\u2019re busy, you\u2019ve got stuff to do, so while they stand there and talk to you, your body is facing the computer, your eyes are on the computer and an ear, or maybe two, is devoted to the poor soul on the other side of your desk.Aside from the abominable body language you\u2019re displaying (\u201cWhat I\u2019m doing on the computer is more important than you\u201d) you\u2019re probably not really listening to what the person\u2019s telling you. I recently spoke with management expert Don Andersson about the difference between the two and how we can improve our listening ability.\u201cMost of us have been gifted with the ability to hear, but few of us have taken hearing and refined it into the art of listening,\u201d he says. \u201cWe tend to be defensive when we hear. Most of the time we\u2019re expecting people to say things that fit into our categories so we\u2019re really not as open to hearing what they\u2019re saying as we could be.\u201dMany times, too, as soon as the other person starts speaking, we\u2019re busy preparing our answer before they even have 10 words out of their mouth.\u201cPart of the time when we listen we hear a few words and we jump into the editing room of our mind to prepare an answer before we have paid attention to everything they\u2019re saying,\u201d Andersson says. \u201cBefore they\u2019re done, we respond and we\u2019re not responding on target.\u201dNext time you\u2019re in a conversation with someone, or overhearing another, see how many times one party interrupts the other before he or she is finished speaking. Check yourself if you get the urge to jump in before the other person is through. We\u2019re such a microwave, drive-thru, high-speed society these days, we\u2019re rush-rush-rush, even when it comes to the art of conversation.To improve your responsive listening skills, Anderson suggests you recap what the person says after he or she is through speaking to ensure you got it right, a la, \u201cHere\u2019s what I\u2019ve heard you say, tell me what I may have heard inaccurately.\u201d\u201cMost people will be really open to that,\u201d he says. \u201cMost want to know you\u2019ve really listened,\u00a0 whether you\u2019ve agreed or not.\u201dThen there\u2019s the skill of listening for what\u2019s not said. If you\u2019re think a person is holding back or is not stating everything he or she wants, respond with a simple \u201cLike\u2026\u201d, \u201cBecause\u2026\u201d or \u201cAnd\u2026\u201d\u201cFrequently I can use a word like \u2018because\u2019 and shut up and listen to them,\u201d Andersson says.Next week, he\u2019ll share more advice on improving your listening skills.