Do you really hear what your partner is saying? Are you able to listen closely to their thoughts, feelings and needs?
The act of listening in such a personal and intimate way does not always come easily to both men and women.
It’s not rocket science!
The act of listening helps relationships. It sounds obvious and straightforward. Here’s how:
- Strengthens care and respect
- Releases build up of stress and tension
- Heals hurt
- Promotes valuing each others ideas and needs
- Provides comfort and support
- Increases resilience
- Motivates a relationship to grow
- Increases self acceptance
- Builds trust
Listening skills are an extremely active communication process. Below are some useful reminders of what to do .
The Eyes have it
Maintain good eye contact. Look at the person you are talking with. The eyes are the window of the soul!
Being attentive to your partner requires you both to face each other. Turn off all screens, devices and put the newspaper down.
Your body position, ideally seated, needs to be a slight lean forward. Good listening is about moving towards someone and your body language needs to embody that as much as possible.
Move your body
Demonstrating interest in what your partner is saying is a physcial task. Nod your head, open your eyes, smile, move your eyebrows and allow your body to hear to what’s being said.
Show your interest, curiosity and care. Ask questions. If you don’t understand seek out clarity. If you agree, say so. If you disagree let them know. It’s all about engagement.
Encouragement is an extension of your interest. Reinforce your appreciation in connecting with your partner with all the questions and body language that demonstrate you are happy to be communicating.
Keep on listening
When you think you are finished, give yourself another minute and keep listening. It may be that you clarify and reflect back what you hear and check in if there is any more to talk about.
It’s easy to take these skills for granted. We often don’t listen as well as we think.
These skills take practice, every day. Notice what you find to be the most difficult or which ones you have neglected.
There are a number of bad habits when it comes to listening. Here are some to look out for:
Formulating a reply whilst your partner is still talking.
Thinking over your response means you are not paying enough attention. You may miss words, body language, tone of voice and emotion.
In- depth conversations when over-tired or physically unwell.
Feeling unwell or tired makes it really hard to focus with clarity and purpose. We all get cranky, impatient and more susceptible to conflict when we are not feeling our best.
Making judgements and criticisms.
An open, curious and caring style of communication doesn’t work with criticism or judgement. Push the negative to one side and resist the need to blame. If you can’t, take a break and go back to the conversation.
When emotions are stirred there can be a tendency for partner’s to interrupt each other. This can be one of the most destructive interactions for couples because the experience of feeling dismissed and disregarded is often the outcome.
Unless you are a psychic twin, it’s vital to refrain from adding or guessing words for the other. Similar to interrupting, it tends to feel dismissing.
Roll your eyes if you disagree.
Have you ever wondered what your face does when you are in disagreement with someone you love? It may not be as dramatic as rolling your eyes, however pay some attention to your body language. Rolling the eyes is one of the worst in terms of inciting conflict.
Walk away mid-sentence.
Walking away from someone who is in the middle of talking with you sends a powerful and negative message. If you need to leave because you are overwhelmed try and say you need a break.