Here are ten tips to improve your listening:
- Stop Talking. It’s difficult to listen and speak at the same time.God gave us two ears and only one tongue, which is a divine hint that we should listen twice as much as we talk.
- Give your spouse full attention. Good listening means being willing to put whatever you are doing down. If you are surfing the internet or reading- Stop. Put down the remote. Close the door. Turn of the monitor. Minimize distractions and let your partner know you’re willing to listen.
- Quiet the conversation in your head. Including your opinions about what your spouse is saying and what you will say when he or she finishes. When you can master letting people say whatever they have to say and really just hearing them, they will truly feel listened to.
- Clarify what your spouse wants from you. Does your spouse want you to just listen and care, or is he/she wanting solutions and advice? Clarify by asking, “Regarding this, specifically what do you want from me? Do you want me to just listen, or to give my opinion, advice, or what?”
- Avoid interrupting before she or he is done talking. Let him or her finish. If your spouse has been talking a long time and you want to say something, politely indicate your desire to speak with a raised finger and ask, “Can I say something about that?”
- Listen empathically and show you care. Especially if they are telling you something personal or painful. Empathyis mentally entering into the feeling of another person. Empathic listening is focusing on what a person is saying and periodically summarizing your sense of what they are thinking, feeling and needing at the moment.It’s putting yourself in your spouse’s shoes, to see the situation from their point of view. It’s asking yourself what it must be and feel like to experience what he or she is experiencing.It creates connection.
- Engage with your mate. Comfortably position yourself so you can engage by facing your spouse and making eye contact. Occasionally acknowledge in a few words what was said. Encourage your partner with an understanding nod or say “I see” or “That makes sense.” An occasional nod can show you understand and are still with them. Asking open-ended questions such as ‘How did that make you feel?’ can show your concern.
- Avoid turning the focus of the conversation onto yourself. Don’t jump right in telling about your own similar experience. For example, if your spouse is trying to confide a personal problem, avoid saying ‘That’s just like the time I …’ and digressing into unhelpful stories about yourself or your own problems.
- Make your mate a priority by listening without being distracted. Don’t check the time or look away. If a child or someone else comes over to talk to you, tell them to wait. Don’t let a phone call keep you from making your mate a priority.
- Stop Talking! This is both the first and the last point, because all other tools depend on it.
Listening- really listening, wholeheartedly, is one of the greatest gifts we can ever give our spouse. I think all of us would agree, listening is the best, or at least one of the best ways of saying “I love you.”