Communication within intimate relationships is one of the most critical components of a successful and long-lasting relationship; when there is a breakdown in communication or a breakdown in the lines, your ability to connect with your spouse deteriorates, and you may feel frustrated, nervous, and alone, if this is happening in your present relationship, it may be time to change how you interact with your partner to increase communication—which could very well start with the art of listening.
The majority of individuals do not listen with the intention of understanding; instead, they listen to respond. They’re either talking or getting ready to talk. Most of the time, what you’re hearing is the internal conversation and critique that’s going on in your head as your spouse is speaking. It’s easy to find yourself judging the other person for what they’re saying or how they’re saying it with their tone of voice, or perhaps the internal voice of judgment is directed at yourself.
It’s not uncommon for you to tune out when your partner speaks, and you may even go so far as to lose yourself in a daydream while the other person speaks. You might be thinking, “How should I respond to this?” at other times. “Will they ever stop talking so I can respond?” or “Will they ever stop talking so I can respond?” It’s impossible to listen to someone else when everything is about you.
1. How Is Active Listening Different from Listening?
In active listening, the listener pays close attention to the speaker’s words and replies appropriately. Passive listening, on the other hand, occurs when the listener hears the speaker’s message but does not respond.
An engaged listener pays close attention to the speaker’s physical characteristics, such as look, body language, and expressions, which all play a role in translating the meaning of the spoken word. A passive listener, on the other hand, ignores the physical characteristics of the speaker because they are uninterested in what is being said.
2. How to Be a Better Listener in a Relationship?
Don’t Take Things too Personally
Also, let go of the notion that your partner’s words are just about you. This is one of the most challenging aspects of listening since it’s human nature to take things personally—as if the other person’s words are causing you to be wrong. Remember that your partner is sharing their own story with you, which may or may not be related to you.
Allow Any Attachments or Agendas to Go
When you’re emotionally invested in a particular conclusion, it’s easy to come across as if you’re pushing your agenda rather than listening. You may become preoccupied with how you may reclaim control of the discussion or a situation, and this prevents you from hearing what is being said at the moment. It’s critical to keep in mind that we all digest information and experiences in various ways. There will always be potential for contrast because no two people see the same subject in the same way. The texture in your interactions—both positive and negative—is created by this variance among people. You may forget — or not understand — that you think and process things differently from one another, which can lead to the perception of separation when there is a quarrel. Remember that you’re doing your best from your current level of awareness and that one of the most valuable gifts you can give someone is the gift of listening.
Assume That the Conversation Will Be a Collaborative Effort
This entails doing your best to listen from your partner’s perspective to resolve. Try to put yourself in their shoes objectively to gain a better understanding of their ideas, emotions, and viewpoint.
When It’s Time to Listen to Your Partner, Be Present, Attentive, and Focused
Turn off the ringer or turn the phone face down if it’s close by so you don’t get distracted. Make eye contact with your partner, approach the topic with a curious mindset, and lean forward with your physical body to show your partner that you are “all ears.”
When Your Partner Is Sharing, Don’t Try to Figure Things out
If you find yourself overthinking while the other person is speaking, you may be attempting to plan the ideal response. This will take you away from being present with your spouse at the moment. Simply “being” and taking it all in is an excellent way to start.
Don’t Argue on Who Is Right and Wrong
Your values are neither better nor worse than those of your partner. An active listener will make every effort not to judge their partner’s feelings. Needs and emotions are never “right” or “wrong,” they are just what they are. The majority of discussions that lead to black-and-white thinking, whether correct or incorrect, are about establishing control. Instead of connection, control leads to blame, rage, and resentment. In an argument, a partner who feels judged or “wrong” would feel rejected and unheard. The role of a listener is to listen rather than to pass judgment. When a listener intends to listen rather than control, the result is a stronger connection.
You Don’t Have to Say ‘Yes’ All the Time
Our culture has instilled in us the misconception that a happy marriage never disagrees or fights. In reality, many healthy couples have fundamental disagreements about their relationship, and no couple will ever agree on everything. Hearing and validating views you disagree with is an example of authentic listening, and it demonstrates respect for your other. The idea is to listen and accept rather than agree, leading to the compromise that couples need to get through difficult times and themes together.
Empathy is the ability to understand and empathize with another person’s situation, which is the polar opposite of judgment. Your partner’s feelings and needs are genuine, and they are often the result of terrible, profound experiences. Your partner, like you, has their own needs and feelings based on their experiences. To feel and comprehend your partner’s pain, try placing yourself in their position, or access your pain and assess how you’ve dealt with it. Everyone, including your partner, may face a terrible event or condition at some point, and demonstrating empathy and understanding can allow for more in-depth dialogues and connections.
Validate Your Partner
Many of my couple’s counseling clients have told me that feeling ignored is one of their top pain and rage triggers. So, how do you demonstrate to your partner that you have genuinely heard their feelings and needs? One method that has been found to work is to repeat (in your own words) what you believe your spouse said to you and ask if you heard them correctly. Avoid inferring your interpretations from what your partner said, as they could be wrong and invalidating; instead, repeat what you heard. It’s okay if you don’t understand everything. You can ask your companion to repeat whatever you didn’t understand. When you use you, it’s even more effective.
Listen Before You Respond
Interrupting is one of the most rapidly invalidating acts. Interrupting is frequently motivated by fear or a lack of emotional safety on the listener’s part. This behavior, on the other hand, will make your spouse assume that you believe your viewpoint is more valid than theirs. While your partner is talking, try not to rehearse a response in your thoughts, as this will take you away from empathy and feeling what your partner is attempting to communicate with you. Allow the dialogue to flow naturally without interruptions or interruptions from pre-planned responses (that could ultimately cause more pain than healing).
For the most part, this is putting down the phone, turning off the television, or stepping away from the computer screen. As a listener, nonverbal clues are incredibly crucial. If you’re preoccupied and disengaged, you’re not going to be able to validate your partner (who might feel like they’re speaking to a brick wall).
Use nonverbal clues like touch, eye contact, and body language to get even more accurate with your spouse (as well as the verbal cue of vocal tone). These are the signs that babies pick up during their early development to help them feel comfortable. These same cues will relax an adult’s limbic system, allowing them to share their emotions and wants with greater ease. Acceptance and security nonverbal cues are not only essential listening skills but are also essential listening skills.
3. What Are the Benefits of Listening in a Relationship?
There are many benefits of improving your listening skills in a relationship:
Builds Deeper Connections and Better Rapport with Your Partner
Good listening is essential for a deeper relationship, so take the time to practice. Here are a few ways to improve your listening skills in a relationship. a. Don’t be defensive. Don’t take your partner for granted. Make an effort to understand your partner’s viewpoint, even if it means being patient with your mate.
Demonstrates Kindness and Respect
Learn to listen to your partner’s feelings. People often take things personally, so if you can listen to their emotions without assuming their feelings, you can build trust. It’s also handy to pick up on nonverbal cues from your partner, which can help you understand their point of view. This is an integral part of building relationships. Try to practice listening more in your relationships! Listening is an integral part of communication. It is tough to listen when people try to communicate with you, as we all tend to take things personally. But if you want to build a lasting relationship with your partner, you need to practice listening to understand your partner’s perspective. If you’re having trouble understanding your partner, you can start by learning to listen to your partner’s feelings without assuming the truth.
Maintains a Healthy Relationship
Practicing listening skills in a relationship is crucial for a healthy relationship. While listening is essential for any relationship, it is also essential for both individuals. When a partner is talking to you, they may be emphasizing certain words or ideas. It’s essential to pay attention to these words and avoid taking the speaker’s position as a negative role model.
Shows Your Empathetic Side
It is essential to listen to the other person without interrupting or taking them for granted. If you’re not listening to your partner, likely, your partner will not be able to hear you. Similarly, if your partner speaks more than you, do not interrupt. Instead, try to engage in the conversation. Rather than talking in your own words, your partner should speak. If you don’t listen to their words, you might feel uncomfortable in your relationship. Your empathy in understanding a relationship and trying to listen will show your empathetic side to your partner and increase respect.
When you listen to someone, try to focus on the words that the person is using. It’s important to stay neutral and avoid assuming that the speaker is talking to you. Whether you’re talking to a partner who’s having a difficult day or simply to a colleague, your listening skills will be necessary to your relationship. Be aware of your partner’s non-verbal cues. Better listening skills improve clarity in any relationship.
Understanding Non-Verbal Clues
While it’s essential to be aware of your partner’s body language, it’s also important to listen to their non-verbal cues. Your partner may be feeling emotionally strained and needing space to talk. Using non-verbal cues can help you build better relationships with your partner. While your partner may express their needs verbally, you can use gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions to show your vulnerability.
Listening skills are essential to your relationship. Please pay attention to how your partner says things and how they are said. Listening is a complicated ability to master, and you won’t be able to do so in a single conversation. If you practice enhancing your listening skills regularly, you will notice a difference (and it will get more straightforward and natural!) over time.