Passive Listening

Learn the Art of Passive Listening

In using passive listening, you are actually very interested in understanding what the other person is saying. You are attentive to what the person is talking about. You listen carefully to what is being said, even though you do not verbally verify the information.




If someone expresses their opinions, thoughts and feelings clearly to us, that is only half of what's needed for effective communication. When someone communicates with you, they do it to fill a need. They want something from you, the listener. They may be feeling badly, and needing to express thoughts or feelings about something or someone. They pick the best way they can to talk with you, and you need to receive and interpret what the speaker is saying.

There are obstacles to passive listening. If the speaker's voice is too quiet, it may be difficult to hear them. If they make their message too convoluted by speaking about too many issues or about too many small details, you won't be able to follow them. You may even become lost and forget just what your part in this conversation is. You may be receiving conflicting signals from the speaker, if their body language doesn't jive with what they're saying.

There are also obstacles on the listener’s side that make passive listening harder to accomplish. You may be not listening closely, or you may be preoccupied. You could be so interested in what you want to say that you shut them out. You may be forming a rebuttal in your brain before they've finished what they are saying. You could be making judgments about the person speaking or about what they are saying.

To be an effective listener, you need to remember that people all vary somewhat in the way they communicate. They may not be able to express themselves clearly. If you don't address their concerns, your listening won't be effective. In fact, you could be making the situation worse. If someone comes to you to talk because they're upset or angry, and you do not acknowledge the way they feel, they may become more upset than they already were.

There is a world of difference between hearing words and listening to the speaker's message. When we are truly listening, we can understand what the speaker is feeling or thinking, and we can see things from their point of view. We can almost see through their eyes. We may have a different opinion on the subject they are speaking about, but we should still acknowledge theirs.

Don't just hear words. Use passive listening and other listening styles to make sure you receive the message that the speaker is trying to make.