There is a time and a place for speaking in conversation, and there is also a time for staying quiet and absorbing what you’re hearing. This is known as passive listening. “Passive listening is the process of listening to information, not reacting to it, and allowing the speaker to speak freely,” explains Namavar. “Passive listening allows you to take in information without being encompassed by it or reacting–a way of preserving a personal boundary or attention.”
If a friend needs to work through a personal problem or simply vent, this is a good opportunity to practice passive listening without interjecting your opinion or thoughts on the matter. “You can become a better passive listener by focusing on what is being said, letting go of personal beliefs or reactions, and accepting your role of listening and not speaking,” she adds.
This form of listening is essential when it comes to creating strong relationships so your friends, partner, or family know that they are being heard and understood. “Everyone wants to hear themselves speak,” she explains.
This is similar to supportive listening which is essential for allowing people to feel seen and can help to build interpersonal relationships. “With supportive listening, you’re chiming in with statements that feel affirmative and validating of what the person is saying,” explains Chloe Carmichael, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author. “But you’re not speaking in a way that suggests you want to take the floor and interject. You’re instead making periodic interjections or words of validation that are intended to encourage the person to keep sharing more.”