Social psychologists have a longstanding interest in the mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of positive social connections. This article reviews and integrates two emerging but to this point disparate lines of work that focus on these mechanisms: high‐quality listening and perceived partner responsiveness. We also review research investigating the downstream consequences of high‐quality listening and perceived partner responsiveness: the how and why of understanding the process by which these downstream benefits are obtained. High‐quality listening and perceived partner responsiveness, though not isomorphic, are related constructs in that they both incorporate several key interpersonal processes, such as understanding, positive regard, and expressions of caring for another person. We develop a theoretical model for representing how listening embodies one form of interactive behavior that can promote (or hinder) perceived partner responsiveness and its downstream affective, cognitive, and behavioral effects. Finally, we discuss our model’s implications for various social‐psychological domains, such as social cognition, self‐evaluation, constructive disagreements, and interpersonal relationships.