Some consider listening to be the most important part of speaking. This is because listening is a two-step process: first, it’s passive and involves understanding what’s being said (the words and language); and second, it’s active and requires the listener to provide feedback in order for the speaker to know that they’re understood.
In this article we discuss how listening without providing feedback can cause problems like miscommunication, negative feelings between people, misinterpretations, and other issues.
What is listening?
Listening to what another person has to say is a natural human behavior. It allows us to engage in a two-way conversation and let others know that we’re listening to them. In order for this to happen, we need to understand what the other person is saying. This is done by separating words from meaning, paying attention to details, and being able to discern between what’s being said and how it’s being said (language).
How listening is a passive process
A passive process simply means that there’s a receiver and a transmitter, but the receiver doesn’t contribute much to the conversation. In fact, they don’t provide feedback to indicate that they’re listening.
In other words, the listener’s role is limited to receiving what the speaker has to say. This leads to problems occurring between people because misunderstandings take place because the listener didn’t indicate that they understood what was being said.
The main problem with this process is that the listener can’t differentiate between what the speaker is saying and how they’re saying it. Without this distinction, it’s possible to misinterpret what the speaker intended.
What are the benefits of passive listening?
There are many reasons why someone would choose to passively listen. Here are some:
- They may not feel confident and don’t want to seem like they’re trying to compete with the other person.
- They may think their opinion is unimportant and that the other person’s opinion is more important.
- They may just want others to listen to what they’re saying without judging them for their words.
- They may not be interested in the issue and just want others to listen so they can be entertained or learn something new.
- They may feel uncomfortable and would rather not participate or try to figure out what’s being said.
- They may feel the topic is unimportant and not worth their time.
- They may simply be passive people by nature and prefer to listen without responding much at all.
Listening passively allows the listener to relax, focus, and just try to understand what’s being said without feeling like they have to contribute or pay attention much at all. This is why listening is usually done in the background.
Unfortunately, this passive approach to listening can be problematic because it doesn’t allow others to know they’re being listened to. This can cause problems like miscommunication, negative feelings between people, misinterpretations, and other issues along the way.
Why listening is an active process
There are many reasons why someone would choose to actively listen. Here are some:
- They may feel confident in their ability to understand what’s being said and what they’re saying.
- They may genuinely choose to be an active listener, not only because they like to understand, but also because it shows confidence and respect.
- They may want others to ask them questions or be curious about the topic; this is called inquiry listening.
- They may want others to use facts and evidence to support their ideas, which is called substantiation listening.
- They may be interested in the topic and think it’s important because they’re passionate about it.
- They may feel confident in their ability to comment back on what other people are saying, which is called negotiation listening.
- They may want others to share their opinions or engage them in conversation, which is called collaborative listening.
Problems caused by passive listening
There are many problems caused by passive listening. Here are some:
- It can lead to misunderstandings. As mentioned above, the listener is unable to distinguish between what’s being said and how it’s being said. This can lead to misinterpretations that cause problems for everyone involved, especially when the speaker has different ideas or intentions from what’s being heard. For example, a friend may say something negative about a topic without realizing that you’re hearing them say something positive as well.
- It can cause miscommunication because it’s difficult to find out if the listener heard what was said or misunderstood it. This can cause problems like misunderstandings, confusion, and distrust between people because they feel like the other person doesn’t understand them.
- It can cause feelings of resentment and anger as a result of miscommunication and misinterpretations that don’t go away easily because the person’s feelings were hurt as a result of what they wanted to say being misunderstood.
- It can cause feelings of resentment and anger because the person felt like they were made fun of or ignored.
- It can cause feelings of resentment and anger because the listener feels like was taken advantage of or treated unfairly because he/she felt misunderstood or not respected.
It’s important to realize that passive listening doesn’t have to be a problem for you, but it does have an effect on how you perceive others and feel about them. It’s also important to understand that passive listeners generally don’t talk back or argue with those who speak to them. This means they can be easily misunderstood as well as looked down on because of the way they react to others.
In some cases, passive listening can be a positive thing. For example, if you’re a child and you’re being bullied by a group of kids, being ignored and made fun of will probably make you feel terrible, depressed, and may even cause a mental breakdown. In this case, it’s better to be passive and just listen without trying to respond or defend yourself because it may just wind up making things worse.
However, if you’re an adult being bullied by other adults or a child being bullied by other kids who should have more respect for you, ignoring you may not be a positive option. In these cases, passive listening can cause a lot of problems and may need to be changed to active listening.
Problems caused by active listening
There are many problems caused by active listening. These problems can be similar to those caused by passive listening, but there are some key differences that help with the resolution of the problem. Here are some:
- It can lead to misinterpretations or miscommunication between people because of different ideas, opinions, and experiences that may not go away with just time alone. This can cause problems like disagreement and confusion about what was said because people hear different things.
- It can cause arguments between people when they feel misunderstood because what they want to say isn’t being heard or understood by others.
- It can lead to arguments between people when they feel like they are being threatened or threatened with consequences if they don’t do something. This doesn’t allow the person to make their own choices and feel like it’s their own decision–it’s more like an ultimatum. This may cause arguments to happen with those who feel threatened by the passive listener.
- It can cause arguments between people when they feel like they’re being treated unfairly because their ideas or opinions aren’t being heard or respected, which can lead to a lot of anger and frustration.
- It may make a person want to leave if they feel invalidated, belittled, or treated unfairly because of who they are as a person. This can cause people to feel resentment or anger towards others because they’re not being treated fairly.
- It may cause the passive listener to get angry or upset if they aren’t allowed to get their point across, which can show that they are too emotionally invested in what’s being said. This may make them feel like what’s being said isn’t important to others, which can make them feel like it wasn’t important enough for them to take the time to understand it.
- It can lead to passive listeners feeling like they’re being considered a doormat or a puppet because their ideas or opinions aren’t being considered. This causes passive listeners to feel like what was said isn’t important enough to be heard and respected.
Why combining both passive and active listening will lead to better conversations
Here’s why combining passive and active listening can help improve your conversations.
- Passive listening is better for some types of conversations, but not all of them. Passive listening is best for some types of conversations, but not all of them. For example, passive listening is great if the person speaking is really emotional or trying to get you to agree with them, but it may be hard to understand what they’re actually saying because they use language that’s difficult to hear.
Passive listening is also great in the beginning of a conversation when you’re just learning about someone’s ideas or opinions because it allows the other person to feel comfortable enough to talk about their ideas or opinions without feeling judged or criticized. However, it can often be difficult for passive listeners to decide if they are being listened to because there are so many different types of passive listening.
- Active listening is great for some types of conversations, but not all of them. Active listening works really well when you need to make sure you understand what someone is saying because their language isn’t difficult to hear or they’re trying to get you to agree with them. It also works well when someone is very open or transparent about what they want to say without feeling threatened by others. However, it may be hard for active listeners to understand what is being said if their ideas or opinions are being attacked or argued with.
- Combining both passive and active listening can lead to better conversations because it allows people to feel respected and understood without being attacked or threatened. If both people use this technique, there’s a greater chance of the conversation going more smoothly. In some cases, it can lead to a lot less tension between the people talking, which makes them feel more at ease with each other.
- Combining both passive and active listening can lead to a more positive outcome for both people because it allows them to feel respected, understood, and heard at the same time. This allows everyone involved to feel valued and open up about what they want to say without feeling judged or criticized by others.
Tips for combining both passive and active listening
There are several tips that can help you when combining passive and active listening techniques so you can get the benefits of both without the negative effects. Here are the tips:
- Use your body language to help you control, judge, and react to what’s being said during a conversation. Your body language can help both people understand what you’re saying by making sure you aren’t judged or criticized by the person talking about something that bothers them. The more they know you understand their ideas or opinions, the less likely they are to feel attacked or judged, which makes it easier for them to be open and honest without feeling attacked or judged.
- Try different things in different conversations so you’ll learn what works best in what type of conversation. Try different ways of listening to understand what’s being said so it’s easier for the person speaking. For example, if someone is sharing something personal with you, this may be a great time to make eye contact and show you’re trying to understand their ideas or opinions.
This can help them feel valued and respected by making sure they aren’t judged or criticized by the person talking about something that bothers them. For example, it may be helpful to use active listening during a conversation that’s about something personal. You can try to understand their ideas or opinions by making eye contact with them and asking questions that show you’re trying to understand what they’re saying.
- Wait for the other person to finish speaking before you start talking again. This makes it easier for the person who’s speaking to feel respected and understood because it shows they aren’t being attacked or criticized. For example, you can start with passive listening if the person is emotional or you aren’t sure what they’re trying to say.
This may lead them to become more emotional or open up further, which can make it easier for the person speaking to feel comfortable enough to talk about ideas or opinions that bother them. Then, you can transition into active listening when they’ve started sharing their ideas or opinions. For example, you can try to understand what they’re saying by asking questions that show you’re trying to understand their ideas or opinions.
- Try out a few different types of passive and active listening to see which works best in the situation. There are a lot of different types of passive and active listening so no matter what type of conversation it is, there’s a chance it will work better if you try several different ways before you find the combination that works best for both people talking.
Overall, combining both passive listening and active listening can create a more positive conversation for everyone involved. Passive listening is best for some types of conversations, but not all of them. If you want to be a better listener, it’s important to know the difference between passive and active listening.
Passive listening is great when someone is emotional or doesn’t have enough time to talk because it allows them to feel comfortable enough to express their feelings without feeling judged or criticized by others. However, passive listening isn’t always a good option for longer conversations or ones that have a lot of tension between the people talking.
Active listening tends to work better in many types of situations because it helps you understand what’s being said before you respond to it. It can be difficult to use this type of listening effectively when someone is emotional or doesn’t have enough time to talk. It works great when someone is very direct and open about what they want to say without feeling threatened by others’ ideas or opinions.
The last thing you want to do is make a person feel attacked or judged by responding with a lot of criticism or judging them for what they’re saying. However, if you want to be a better listener, it’s important to learn the difference between passive and active listening techniques. This will help you get the most out of conversations without worrying about being upset by what other people say.