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Active vs. Passive Listening- Are you really listening?



Talking and listening should go hand in hand. One is expressive, the person doing the talking, while the other is supposed to be receptive, the person receiving the talking. The expressive action can be divided into two parts. There is the person who is genuinely interested in a conversation, and then there’s the person who has the ability to make a short story long, VERY long. I recommend that person join a support group called Onanon (but full props and respect to Alanon). We won’t discuss that person. The receptive action is also subdivided into two parts – active and passive.

The passive listener is one who, while hearing the other individual, has no interest in the dialogue or what is being said. They keep saying, “Uh,huh,” over and over without really engaging. Now, I understand we sometimes do that out of manners and courtesy when we’d really just like to say, “Shut the f- -k up!” Sometimes it’s in response to the above mentioned Onanon member. But most of the time we just really are not interested in what is being said. NEWSFLASH!. It’s YOU!

A true people person is both interested and interesting in a conversation- the foundations of being an active listener. My mother, Ma Cookie, had the ability to make anyone she was talking with feel like they were the most important person on earth. She, herself, was always very interesting so everyone wanted to talk with her, but she was also very interested in what you were doing. When you actively listen, you make the other person feel really good about themselves.

Let’s also subdivide active listening into two parts. Sometimes you listen because the information is very important, and you don’t want to miss a detail. This is “needing” to listen. That’s a whole other topic. I’m talking about “wanting” to listen. You are interested in the topic. This is active listening at it’s best.

Everyone likes talking with an active listener because that listener displays interest in what the person is talking about. If you think you’re a passive listener, consider this. Not many people talk with you. They gravitate to others.

An active listener is similar to what Dr. Maya Angelou said. People won’t always remember what you said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. It the same with an active listener. People won’t always remember what they were saying to you, but they will remember how you made them feel as an active listener.

Hello!! Are you listening?

Tikkun Olam- heal the world. Leave it a better place when you leave.

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