Myrlynn Hill • September 20, 2022 • 5 Minute Read
Have you ever thought of the difference between passive listening and active listening? As you busy yourself through your everyday life, are you taking the time to actively listen to what others say to you?
Let’s pause here to make these two skills clear.
Passive listening is defined by simply consuming the message. There is no involvement from the listener’s side. Meaning, you are not engaging, your body language could show disinterest or boredom, there is only one way communication, your mind could be wondering, thinking of the many things you have to do. You give off verbal and nonverbal clues that may make the other person feel invalid.
One of my favorite examples of passive listening that always hits hard, would be this-
It’s been a long day of house chores, work, errands and getting kids to and from various activities. It is now time for dinner and as you quickly work your magic with the Air Fryer, you are bombarded with chit chat from child #4. Little Johnny is so excited to tell you about his day at kindergarten. He is going on and on about learning the Letter C and the Number 3 in class. He is anxiously showing you the letter C in sign language and the number 3 with his right hand holding up 3 little chubby fingers and his left hand holding down his thumb and pinky finger of the opposite hand. You smile and nod your head, while putting the frozen bag of chicken nuggets back into the freezer. Little Johnny continues on and on, when out of the blue you hear, “Mom, aren’t you proud of me? Mom, Mom…huh? Aren’t you?”
At this point you realize you have no idea what little Johnny has been saying to you. Now what?
Let’s imagine this scenario happening with active listening skills-
As little Johnny runs into the kitchen to tell you about his fantastic day at kindergarten, you notice his excitement. As he starts up with his chit chat, you recognize that right at this moment you are not in place to give Johnny your full attention. You scoop him up in your arms and give him a big hug as you set him on the counter. He is now at eye level with you and starts to help put the nuggets into the fryer. You ask Johnny to tell you about his favorite part of his day. He starts telling you all about the letter C. He lifts his hand up to show you the letter C and you mirror it back to him. He smiles big as he realizes you know the letter C too. Next, he starts telling you all the words he can think of that begin with the letter C, cat, cap, cab, cub, club as he starts to think harder, you give him clues to the next word, “what do you wear to keep you warm in the winter?’ Coat! Johnny giggles. He is loving this game, but even more, for the 5 mins of conversation, Johnny feels like the only person in your life.
Active listening gives validation to the person communicating with you. When done correctly, you as a coach, friend, parent, sibling will build trust in any relationship you are a part of.
Some key points to be aware of in the coaching world-
Make sure you are “listening to” listen to what is said and not said in your interactions. Be attentive, and ready to mirror back what was said in an interpretation of what you heard. Also watch for body language, pauses and tone of voice. These are always big clues as to what may be going on with your client.
“Listen for” Listen for goals, desires, the bigger picture. Remember here you are Not listening for the solution. We are listening in search of something…. We are listening for the client’s biggest dream!
“Listen with” Listen with your whole self- your body mind and spirit. You will feel things physically that will indicate truth or intuition, learn to trust yourself.
You will hear details and words that your client shares and your mind will begin to see patterns and connect dots that your client may not see.
As we connect with our clients heart to heart in the beginning of each session, we are then able to listen with our heart or spirit. We will be connected to our client in the most beautiful way. We will hear and understand their divine potential and worth.
The average person spends 45-75% of their waking hours listening. This week challenge yourself to be aware of what kind of listener you are. Active or Passive? If you find yourself struggling to stay in the role of an active listener, pick 2 or 3 things from the graph below to help you stay focused and in the moment. Remember, an Active Listener is also an Effective Communicator.