Listening is always active.
I came across a quote about active listening that I absolutely love! Michael Shurtleff, to whom the quote is attributed, was a legendary casting director. He wrote the bible for actors to learn how to audition for roles (it’s called, simply, Audition).
Listening is not merely hearing, it is receiving the message that is being sent to you.
Listening is reacting.
Listening is being affected by what you hear.
Listening is letting it land before you react.
Listening is letting your reaction make a difference.
Listening is active.
This encapsulates everything I believe about the importance of the listener in how we communicate with each other. When we listen to others, our responses should make a difference - even if the only “difference” is that the other person feels understood, truly understood. We do not need to give advice or provide a solution in order to make a difference to someone.
Taking the time to let yourself react, and feel whatever emotions are evoked in response to our conversational partner, is so important. “Letting it land before you react.” Sometimes we need to make the time to help someone feel heard, and to do that, we have to be affected by whatever it is they share - in words and in body language and in emotion.
I have so much fun training managers about emotions and empathy. My active listening trainings are the most requested. To find out more or schedule a training, send me an email.