6 Types of Listening + How to Use Them for Stronger Relationships

There is a time and a place to speak in conversation, and there is also a time to be quiet and absorb what you hear. This is called passive listening. “Passive listening is the process of listening to information, not reacting to it, and allowing the speaker to speak freely,” Namavar explains. “Passive listening allows you to absorb information without being encompassed by it or reacting to it – a way of maintaining a boundary or personal attention.”

If a friend needs to solve a personal problem or just vent, this is a good opportunity to practice passive listening without voicing your opinion or thoughts on the subject. “You can become a better passive listener by focusing on what is being said, letting go of your 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 building strong relationships so that your friends, partner, or family know they are heard and understood. “Everyone wants to hear themselves talk,” she explains.

This is similar to supportive listening which is essential for making people feel seen and can help build interpersonal relationships. “With supportive listening, you intervene with statements that feel affirmative and validate what the person is saying,” says Chloe Carmichael, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author. “But you don’t speak in a way that suggests you want to speak up and intervene. Instead, you make periodic interjections or validation words that are meant to encourage the person to keep sharing more.

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