Active Vs. Passive

New York State Dept. of Health

In teaching, one learns about the difference between active listening and passive listening. A bit complicated to go into here but, basically, active listening is when we “tune-in” to what is being said, feeding the information directly to our brains and passive listening is what is called “hearing”; setting your ears on auto-pilot and asking only to be woken up in case of an emergency.

Any teacher will tell you that it is that latter that is the cause of so many test mistake or muddling of information. When we hear we are only actually “getting” about one third of the information that is being sent to us, when we listen we are actively aurally imbibing up to 99% of the same. Sure, our Senses can do a lot on auto-pilot; our brain can warn us about a seemingly unheard sound that means trouble or our reflexes can help us dodge a blow that we weren’t aware was coming- but when we actively listen, there is no need to even get surprised.

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