02 Jan Improving your relationship through better listening.
You are unique.
There's only 1 version of you available and that's YOU. This also means that your relationship is unique - no two couples are exactly alike.
Even though there may be similarities and traits that are common to many relationships, don't ever make the mistake of comparing your relationship with another person's own 'cos your experiences are totally different. Therefore, we don't have any magic 10-step formula that must work for everyone.
Instead, what we've found is that no matter the uniqueness of your situation, one tool that goes a long way towards helping you have a better relationship is Good Communication.
Communication (both verbal and non-verbal) is a very wide topic which has many parts. It is impossible to address everything about communication in one post. So, for today, we'll focus on only 1 aspect of communication - Listening.
Listening has been found to be the most difficult aspect of communication. As a matter of fact, it's easier to talk than to listen.
Talking gives you a sense of control - you feel like you're in charge of the conversation. On the other hand, listening makes you feel helpless - it creates a fear of not being heard. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Listening can be both active and rewarding. When done properly, listening can set you on the path to huge breakthroughs in your relationship.
Let's now take a look at 4 key elements of active listening.
1). Truly, really listen.
Research has shown that during an argument, you only listen to your partner for 10 seconds before your mind starts preparing an answer for you to give in return. This means that everything else he's saying afterwards is not really heard. It's a defense mechanism and it's natural to all of us.
To change this, you need to "force yourself to hear" what your partner is saying. When you catch your mind wandering away and preparing an answer while they're still talking, stop immediately and get back to listening actively. Stay in the moment.
Be open and honest about the process. If you don't understand something, be sure to ask questions (as long as you wait for them to finish and don't interrupt).
The summary of this point is that you should listen in order to truly hear what your partner is saying and understand their point of view. Not listen to reply.
Remember that both of you have different backgrounds - so the way you see things are completely different from his own views.
By really listening, you have a better chance of understanding what they're saying - and even hearing the things which were unspoken but silently implied.
2). Please, don't ever interrupt.
I promise, this is so hard to do. When your partner is saying something you disagree with, or something you know to be a wrong representation of your own reality, how do you just keep quiet and listen to them talk?
But, despite how difficult it is to cultivate this character, you definitely want to do it. It is one of the best listening tools you can use for your relationship right now.
By letting your partner finish, you're helping everyone:
=> You're telling him that you respect his opinions - even if you don't agree
=> You're showing that you respect yourself - by not jumping in mid-way
=> You're training your memory to retain points and ask questions later
Interruptions help nobody. That's what leads to raised voices - because each person is trying to make their voices loudest and be heard in the midst of all the shouting.
But when only 1 person is talking, then there will be no need to shout - and everyone will be heard eventually. Please, don't ever interrupt.
3). Keep an open mind.
If you've made up your mind before a conversation starts, then why have that conversation at all?
You see, we all have our opinions about various things and it's often difficult to convince us otherwise.
In a relationship, you need to be more flexible. Yes, have your opinions...but don't let them cloud your thinking and prevent you from listening to anything else that your partner has to say.
Keep an open mind and hear him out. In fact, be willing to be wrong and freely admit it if you were. Pride does not do you any good - so keep an open mind and listen.
Remember, this does not mean that you must accept "everything" you hear. It just means that you're willing to listen, hear, and truly understand.
4). Summarize what you heard
Finally, summarize what you heard.
Say things like, "Okay baby, I need to be sure I understand you correctly. You mean that whenever I'm texting while you're talking to me, you feel disrespected even though I multitask very well and can hear what you're saying. Is that right?"
This does a couple of good things for both of you: First it helps you confirm that you really heard him. That way, you're in a better position to respond properly.
Secondly, it tells him that you care - enough to listen and understand.
And what are relationships for if not caring and understanding?
If you will practice these things, you're on track to improving your relationship by a thousand miles.
Wishing you well in your relationship.
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