The main difference between active and passive listening is that active listening is listening and reacting, but passive listening is listening without reacting.
Listening is an essential component of any communication. If you don’t listen well, you probably won’t completely understand what is being communicated. Active listening and passive listening are two ways we listen to people. In active listening, the listener has to concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what was communicated. In passive listening, on the other hand, the listener has to sit back quietly and absorb information.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Active Listening
– Definition, Features, Examples
2. What is Passive Listening
– Definition, Features, Examples
3. What is the Similarity Between Active and Passive Listening
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Active and Passive Listening
– Comparison of Key Differences
Active Listening, Listening, Passive Listening
What is Active Listening
Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person, improving the mutual understanding between the two. It is the method of listening used in counselling and solving conflicts and disputes. Active listening involves listening and reacting, which indicates that you understood what was said. In this, reaction mostly involves non-verbal cues, such as nodding, making eye contact, and facial expressions. Note that these non-verbal cues happen naturally; if you concentrate on intentionally making non-verbal cues, you are not probably listening well.
Furthermore, when you are actively listening to someone, you won’t interrupt the person who is speaking. But you will interact with him or her by asking questions or responding to his or her questions (once that person has finished speaking). Active listening is basically a two-way communication, and it requires a lot of attention, empathy and effort.
If the speaker has given permission, you can also take notes while listening. In active listening, it is also important to summarize and reflect back the main points communicated. This will help the listener to understand better.
What is Passive Listening
Passive listening is basically hearing something without responding to it. When you are listening passively, you’ll sit quietly without giving any response or reaction. For example, listening to music, watching the news, listening to a lecture, etc. In passive listening, there is a tendency of our mind moving to other topics from time to time; although you think that you are listening to something, you are not actually understanding what is being said. Therefore, passive listening is one-way communication.
Since there is no feedback or questions in passive listening, the speaker also has no way of knowing whether to listener understood the message or not. However, passive listeners also may sit quietly without any interruptions, just like in active listening. In such cases, you can identify an active listener from his or her non-verbal cues.
Similarities Between Active and Passive Listening
- Both types of listening may involve sitting quietly, without interrupting.
- They may involve more engagement than hearing.
Difference Between Active and Passive Listening
Active listening is reacting while listening in order to emphasize understanding, but passive listening is listening without reacting or responding.
Moreover, active listening may involve feedback and questions, while passive listening does not.
In active listening, the listener concentrates, understands, responds and then remembers what was said. However, in passive listening, the listener’s mind may move to other topics.
Active listening involves natural non-verbal cues like nodding and making eye contact, but passive listening may not involve these.
Counselling or solving disputes may involve active listening, whereas listening to music, listening to the news, etc. are examples of passive listening.
Active listening and passive listening are two ways we listen to people. The main difference between active and passive listening is that active listening is listening and reacting whereas passive listening is listening without reacting.