One of the key things to a thriving, happy relationship is the art of Listening. From the time we are born we are taught to walk, speak, play, write, do math and many other important skills. But almost no one is taught how to communicate effectively, how to listen and how to create a lasting relationship.
So many of us think that a happy relationship is about doing things for people, “being” there for our beloved and they reciprocating the same thing. Although those are powerful contributing factors to a strong relationship it is not key to one. Learning to listen to making sure your partner feels understood and feels safe to share his or her most intimate feelings is key. Without that ingredient you will find yourself replaying the same arguments, the same frustration and the same heartbreak. Without learning to listen the unending storm will never be able to pass.
According to “The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People”, by Stephen Covey he talks about the power of what true listening can do. When we listen openly, allow ourselves to be influenced by the other person, then and only then can we truly have an influence on the other. Most people do it backwards. They prepare their side, why it’s right and find strategies to convince the other to come to their side, without ever truly giving their partner a chance to be heard.
If you think about it, what do you usually do when you are listening to someone? Think about it for a second. 1.Are you simply there just listening? 2. Are you letting your mind wander to why that person is right or wrong, 3.or are you perhaps forming your reply?
Most people are either doing 2 or 3 or perhaps both. When you behave in this way you are not listening and you are definitely not open, not allowing yourself to be influenced.
Most people that call me for coaching, begin their conversation with their amazement by how horrible their partner’s behavior has been. They go on and on by all they have done, how they’ve been there for them and how their partner has hurt them. Most of those client’s bitterness was a result of lack of communication and connection. Without that resentment brews because we all want to be heard and understood, especially by our beloved.
Suggestions in implementing authentic listening.
Take the time to practice this skill together and teach it to your children, friends and co workers. This skill is life changing for any relationship.
Sit with your partner and let him or her begin to speak. Everything that is said you respond by reflection, not by correction, advice ect.. When feeling is relayed reflection becomes even more key.
Jane talks to her husband Jack. She frustrated by his lack of care in keeping the house tidy. She begins her conversation,
Jane: “I’m really frustrated. The house seems to be always messy no matter how much I clean.”
Jack: reflects. ” You’re really frustrated by the messiness of the house..”.
Jane:, “Yea, I know how busy you are and stressed. I wished you could help out more.”
Jack: “You’re upset because I don’t help out enough?”
Jane: “Well yea. You do a lot. I know you do. I guess maybe I wish we had a little more help. What do you think about getting a maid once a week?”
At this point, because all Jack did was reflect and gently listen to her without judgement and defensiveness Jane naturally came up with a possible solution where Jack might not feel pressured. When we truly listen, without preparing a response, without feeling defensive, even if some of those feelings are directed at us the one who’s talking will feel safe enough and begin to find a possible solution on their own.
The art of listening takes practice so take the time during a night out for dinner, sitting on a park bench or simply relaxing on your living room coach. By practicing this powerful tool you will set yourself up to a long lasting, loving relationship.