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Improve Communication
 

Be a Good Listener to Improve Relationship Communication
By Susie and Otto Collins

When you were in preschool or kindergarten, you were probably taught the importance of being a good listener.

We bet that just about everyone can remember a teacher instructing the class to "put on your
listening ears."

Now that you are an adult and in a love relationship or marriage, it might benefit you to return to and follow those very basic directions.

When you think about improving communication in your relationship, your focus might be on how you can speak to your partner more clearly, assertively or expressively about your emotions, your thoughts and your needs.

Of course, using well-chosen words that will help move you and your mate closer together rather than put him or her on the defensive is important.

But many of us forget that in order to cultivate better communication in our relationships, we also need to be engaged listeners and not just more skillful speakers.

In the midst of having a discussion about a difficult topic with your partner, do you ever jump ahead in your mind to figure out what you will say in response while he or she is talking?

Or perhaps you spend much of your "listening" time in the conversation planning out how or what you really want to communicate.

You might hear your partner speaking, but you aren't really listening.

It could be that your mate says something that triggers you in some way. Whatever he or she said has led to confused, afraid, worried or angry emotions within you.

So now, rather than tuning in to the rest of what your partner is trying to communicate, you are instead distracted by your own assumptions and guesses about what your partner might mean.

Both of these half-listening scenarios are common from time to time in just about every single love relationship. If you do either or both of these, you are not alone.

But the fact remains, when you are only half-listening, or not listening at all, to your partner because you are either planning out what you want to say or you are caught up in triggered assumptions about what your partner might be trying to say, you are missing out.

You are missing out on the opportunity to better understand where your partner is coming from.

And you are missing out on a possible moment of connection with the one you love.

Practice engaged listening
Develop your listening skills. Practice listening to others in an engaged way every day and in different contexts.

For example, really listen when your child shares with you about his or her day at school rather than only half-listening as you also think about what you'll prepare for dinner.

To listen in an engaged way, clear your mind of other thoughts for the time being.

Make eye contact if you are able to with the person who is talking. If your attention begins to drift off, gently bring yourself back and re-focus on what is being said.

Whenever you are communicating with another person, get into the habit of fully listening to him or her. If you are busy, be willing to ask the other person to hold that thought until you have completed the task you are working on and are more available.

Know that when you practice engaged listening with your partner (or anyone), you are not making what you have to say less important. Set up the conversation in a way that both have ample time to talk.

You can even agree to specific talking time periods and then set a kitchen timer if that idea appeals to you both.

Clear up uncertainty
Another aspect of engaged listening is making sure that you are accurately understanding what the other person is saying.

When he or she takes a pause or break in talking, you could say something like this: "I am hearing that you want to _________ . Is
this what you were saying?"


Sometimes what a person says and what another person hears can be completely different.

You can avoid misunderstandings, irritation or hurt feelings by occasionally throughout the conversation parroting back to one another what you are hearing and then see if this is accurate.

If you feel triggered by something your partner says, you could request, "Please tell me more about your perception that __________."

Again, when you give your partner the opportunity to clarify and perhaps re-state his or her thoughts and feelings, it might help you better understand.

You might also find yourself less likely to make
up a story about your partner that is simply untrue.

When you listen in an engaged way to your partner, you might find that he or she begins to listen more attentively to what you say.

As the two of you clear up misunderstandings before they fester and cause disconnection, you can move closer together.





 


 

 

 

 

 




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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-459-8121.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email


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