Passive Listening – a rant

owlActive listening is a technique used to make the person speaking believe you understand their message. Many practitioners use the tools  – the knowing head nod, the slight smile, the “So what you are saying is…” (actually reflective, not active, but frequently used), and mirroring the body language. I was recently subjected to this from a professional active listener. She was so good at the technique, I almost forgot what was happening as I spoke. Then came the response. It was clear she was good at the active part, but lousy at the listening part.

Listening is an exercise in empathy and understanding. It is not an exercise in forming a contrasting argument. Next time you have occasion to hear someone speak, try passively listening – listening for learning, not retort. The speaker will thank you for it.

Thank you for listening!


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