As they say, communication is key. In a world with more options for communicating than ever before, having strong communication skills is exceptionally valuable. This is easier said than done. After all, out of a few hundred thousand years of human evolutions, the telephone has been a communication option for less than 150 years.

To make understanding how we communicate easier, Howard Holton, co-host of The Suite Spot—a  fireside chat about all topics IT and OT—broke down the differences between active and passive communication. “There are two ways human beings communicate, we have active communication and passive communication. Active communication is literally the communication that takes place between two people in person,” Holton explained.

Because active communication occurs from person to person, it’s very dynamic. “We pick up on all the subtle cues that come along with it from body language, to intonation, rate of speech, micro expressions, right? All of those inform our ability to interpret the context and nuance of what the person is saying,” Holton said. According to Holton, humans are very good at active communication.

Any communication that doesn’t occur in person is passive communication, such as a letter, email, or text. Holton advises being super clear when dealing with passive communication. For example, when communicating in written form, “You have to be really, really clear in what you write in a letter. You can’t allow nuance to really play. You can’t really allow subtext to overly play, the way you do in in-person communication,” Holton said.

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