‘Ciunga’; it’s the difference between hearing and listening


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I have been told that occasionally, it is a good idea to go back to an old blog and bring it out again. It gives followers a feeling of familiarity, shows them how far the blogger has come, and reminds them why they follow that person. I think perhaps there is a lot for the blogger to gain as well. It tells them the ways they’ve grown, or changed, and it holds them accountable for when they haven’t.

Insights and the thinking process

The post I chose, Ciunga, is it even a word, has given me interesting insight into my thinking process. It showed me I lose confidence very easily, but I keep going anyway; my determination pushing me even when my body says it can’t take more. Ironically, because obviously the above should be a good thing, for me it is a negative and drains all my energy. Most people don’t notice what goes on even when I speak up. Hence, I realised my continued obsession with the difference between listening and hearing has not altered.

I am more convinced than ever that this failure to differentiate causes half the problems in the world we inhabit. With the recent bush fires devastating Australia our head honcho proved the validity of my obsession. It was so obvious he was listening to the people in trouble, but not hearing them at all. I hope he has learned the difference. He has had the dubious benefit of cameras repeating it as often as the news allowed to help his understanding. The question is – did he mean to do this?

I don’t know and for the purpose of this blog it doesn’t matter. This isn’t a political attack. I am pointing out an incident where hearing and listening battled and people got hurt. We are taught that if asked how we are, we should be positive when we reply. No-one wants to be subjected to negativity. Okay, I’ll go along with that. But, aren’t we then encouraging listening and discouraging hearing? Aren’t we  creating an environment that distorts truth? And, why is it so terrible to hear, to go that step further?


Are we afraid we may be called to action, that we may have demands on our time, on our emotions? I think we are, certainly not all of us but many of us. The resulting fear to speak up because we may be thought a whinger, or a negative person leads us to internalise and then the problem is larger, looms big enough to isolate the individual not just from others but from themselves. They shut off a part of who they are to be who they are not.

Cultural diversity

I have commented on the fact that I have an Italian heritage many times. Growing up in an environment so culturally diverse, has added a dimension to the way I say, interpret and often write things.  It has also blessed me with the power to express myself from a wider range of vocabulary and thought patterns. There is a reason that diverse cultures exist. Culture represents an evolution of a specific group, and each group that comes into existence has a different outlook. These different outlooks colour our world and give us rainbows, if we allow it and we allow it by hearing. Hearing is understanding. Listening is just words.


Ciunga is a Sicilian word.  It is part of a dialect so far removed from the Italian language; it could belong to a completely different country. My cousin, coming off night shift and days of little or no sleep used it in a conversation with me. Ciunga means exhausted, but here is the difference between listening and hearing. When she used this word, she was telling me she was beyond exhausted; she was depleted of all energy and that doesn’t happen just through work although work would be a major contributing factor. I heard her and it gave life to the right dialogue, one as it turned out, we both needed.

When we hear the other person, we can respond. We can help. The reverse applies when they hear us. This is what all of us should aim for and in doing so we might find another culture fascinating in its differences instead of finding differences that set us apart.

Enjoying without comparisons equals connection.

Till next time please stay safe,



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  1. Pingback: Christmas presents, 2023 and the gift of listening - Barbara Strickland - Author & Blogger

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