Listening is an essential part of communication, and communication is the basis of most healthy relationships. Being able to listen better in your partnership can create a better bond between the two of you and create new growth within your relationship.
Here are 6 different ways that you can try to listen better to your partner :
- Understanding the difference between hearing and listening. No matter what kind of
relationship you are in, showing active listening validates the other person’s emotions,
experiences and vulnerability. The key is to find a balance between thoughtful speaking and responding and actively listening.
- “use your words” … don’t be afraid to ask or speak up for yourself in what you want or are needing.
- Take your finger off the rebuttal button: research has shown that when we are listening to something that we don’t agree with, we already start to build a counter argument making mental notes in our brain of everything for when it’s our turn to speak. We want to try to train ourselves to stop doing this, and try to listen to understand and get closer to your partner’s experience.
- Try practising reflective listening skills. Reflecting listening is a three step process which includes mirroring, validation and empathy. By mirroring we are creating a judgement free zone to understand the other person point of view and validating it. Invite the other to dialogue about a specific subject. Start with something benign. An exercise you can practise with your partner is starting with speaking from I and me (I feel…. What’s bothering me….).The listener will mirror the speaker by saying “Let me see if I understand. You’re staying X. Did I get that right?” . The speaker will then say “yes, you did” or “you got some of it. “The listener will then ask “is there more?” The listener will validate the speaker by saying phrases such as “what you’ve said makes sense.” The listener will empathise by sharing what they imagine the other person may be feeling. Switch roles.
- Ask new questions about old stories : asking each other to retell stories or asking about details about past stories contribute to a form of communication called joint storytelling. Engaging in asking questions about your past together can allow for listening skills and shows your partner you remember the little things.