Active or Reactive Listening?


Are you really listening when someone speaks to you? Or are you waiting for a brief pause so you can give your input? I’ve been wondering about this.

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For example, let’s suppose that a friend of yours wants to tell you something. It just takes a glance at the body language and hear the voice tone to notice what the tale is about. Your friend starts giving you details, and you already know exactly what to say. At some point of the tale, the narrative gets lost or starts losing meaning due to the sudden urgency to tell your part.

If you can relate to the above, and know what I mean, do you actively listen at that point, or wait to reply? Why do we have to show our cleverness and hindsight, and why do we feel we must do it when the message is still being delivered?

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Perhaps your friend just wanted someone to vent for a minute, and not necessarily to hear how you figure it all out. Chances are that what we say might not be as bright or spot-on as we might believe. Have you ever noticed that? When some one tells you something and you reply while stopping their narrative and realize that you are mistaken. What happens next is interesting, you go back to listening mode and start the process again.

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On the other hand, how would you feel if you are the one who needs to be heard, but you are being interrupted every two seconds by your listener? Is that person still an active listener, or more like a reactive listener? Perhaps if we pay attention to our conversation dynamics we might know which type of listener are we speaking to.

Silence can be an answer, too. And sometimes, silence and presence is what a friend needs.

Have you seen or experienced something similar? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

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