Surely, many of our readers know how important it is to be able to listen. But do you always personally apply these rules? Test yourself and find out how much you know how to listen.
What does it mean to listen correctly? First of all, it means striving to understand — without condemnation, attempts to defend oneself or fight back. This is a kind of acceptance. An act requiring a conscious decision. But it is impossible if you do not go beyond the limits of your own head. If you remain inside yourself, then the voice that sounds in your head will be your own, and not the voice of a loved one.
Set aside your smartphone, tablet, and any other gadgets. Turn them off, or at least put them into silent mode. Show genuine curiosity and interest in what your partner is saying. Lean forward with your body, make eye contact and do not interrupt.
A conversation is a dialogue, so while listening, you do not just click on the “pause” button in your own monologue. Being fully present as a listener, you do not think out for the interlocutor his next remark and, while your partner says, do not formulate what you yourself will say next, do not prepare your objection. Instead of all this, you are just listening.
3. ASK QUESTIONS
If something is not clear to you, ask questions, and then listen to the answers. Remember that it is open-ended questions that reveal the soul. Insert phrases that help you understand the person you are talking to. For example: “Can you tell us more about this?”, “Any story or memory connected with this?” And remember that this is not an interrogation, but a conversation.
Your task as a listener is to “tune in” to your partner. Take care not to belittle his feelings by brushing them off or trying to fix them. You do not have to cheer up your partner or try to cheer him up. Your only goal is just to listen and try to understand.
5. BE A WITNESS
To be a listener is to be a witness. This means that you are listening so that your partner does not feel so alone. A powerful way to be a witness and “be near” with a partner is to repeat in your own words what you heard from him, and thus inform him of your support. For example, if your partner has just described a problem that has arisen in a relationship with a friend, you can say: “It seems that your friend has very upset you with his claims and bias. I perfectly understand why this caused you such feelings. ” You do not have to talk like a therapist. You just let your partner know that you heard it. Remember, the partner does not know what is really happening in our head, although we are often sure that he should know this. Tell him in words that you heard him.
6. AVOID JUDGMENTS
Do not make critical judgments and do not give advice if the partner does not ask about it. In each conversation, the partner should feel respect, understanding and empathy on your part. The conversations for which we advocate require a certain vulnerability and openness — an atmosphere in which each partner feels that he is safe and can tell about his innermost feelings, thoughts and fears to the other. Remember, the purpose of these conversations is not to prove that you are right in your views and your partner is wrong. Their goal is to understand the similarities and differences between you and create an atmosphere of sympathy for the reasons that prompted you to see the world exactly as you see it.
7. STRENGTHEN ACCEPTANCE
In these conversations you will deepen your understanding of each other, and this requires a high level of openness and willingness to be vulnerable. Try to understand what is causing your partner’s response, work on accepting the partner as he is. Cherish what you have and grow thanks to each other. Listening is not always easy, but frank conversations are impossible without it. There are questions that you can ask by listening to each other’s answers; they will help you find the right path in your dates and relationships. Over time, they will become your habit. Here are a number of trouble-free questions to understand your partner:
How do you feel? What do you need?
What are your decisions?
How can I help?
What is your worst case scenario in this situation?
What would be the ideal outcome for you in this situation?
If you catch yourself not understanding each other, but on the contrary, crawl into conflict, take a deep breath (it helps to count to ten, because this is how you calm the emotional centers of the brain) or go to the toilet.
This is an important job. When you begin to notice whether you are listening and hearing each other, your friendship and love will grow, and you will begin your life together on a solid foundation. In Ireland they say: what is begun is half done. So your journey to a life full of love has already begun.