How we SPEAK in our relationships is so very important, but learning how to LISTEN is equally so. Plus, how we listen directly determines how others will relate to us, speak to us, and feel about us. So many more challenges in relationships stem from people not fully hearing each other than they do from the issue itself. This probably means it’s high time we learn this invaluable relationship skill!
When we’re guiding a couple through a process in our office, we often have them take turns being the listener and speaker. Distinguishing these roles from each other can be super helpful in interrupting unhealthy communication patterns. Typically, when others speak, most people are in their own heads.
When it comes to thriving relationships, it’s essential that you get out of your own head and drop into the heart and world of someone else.
We can never fully or accurately respond to someone, until we’ve FIRST really, really paused and heard them, taken it in, tried to understand what it’s really like for them, and felt them.
The vast majority of people, we’ve found, don’t do this.
Instead, they jump right into advice-giving, sharing or defending their own opinion, relating it all back to themselves, criticizing, or taking it personally.
The more we can be present with someone else’s emotions and experiences, the more connection becomes available.
As is true with just about every area of life, whatever we seek, we find; whatever we feed, grows. Listening filters work just like this — whatever we listen for, we hear (even if it’s not even there!). Becoming aware of your listening filters can be illuminating and transformative — because you may be listening for things that aren’t helping your relationship, and we want to help you listen for those that will!
Peruse the below list of listening filters. If you are really honest, which ones are familiar? And, of course, this list is not comprehensive.
Do you ever find yourself listening for…
- how someone is trying to control you
- how you can try to control others
- who is right and wrong
- how you are being criticized
- things to criticize in others
- how you messed up or didn’t get it good enough
- how you can fix things (which is okay but only after you’ve first offered them empathy and acknowledgment and if they actually want your feedback)
- who to blame
- what to analyze
- relating everything back to yourself
- what you are going to say next
- debating or being “devil’s advocate”
- correcting for accuracy
- trying to soothe their natural and healthy expression of feelings because you are uncomfortable with their feelings
If you’re human, you can surely relate to trying some of these out before!
Now, it’s time to try on some new listening filters that are much more effective when it comes to understanding, finding solutions, and feeling connected…
Instead, practice listening for…
- trying to truly understand them
- their best intentions
- their feelings and needs underneath what they are saying
- what you can learn from them
- having empathy, imagining what it is like to be them
- what you can appreciate about them
- their strengths and gifts
- what they did well
- honoring their unique experience, even if it’s different from yours
- taking responsibility for your own feelings, thoughts, and role in whatever occurred
You will know when someone feels really heard by you when you see some of the following:
– a positive and healthy release of feelings
– more energy
– deeper breaths
– more relaxed conversation
– the conversation going deeper
– greater joy or appreciation from them to you
– open hearts
As always, these relationship tips apply not just to your intimate partnership – but to those you have with your kids, colleagues, friends, and beyond!
We lovingly encourage you to start putting this into practice! When you are engaged in conversations, begin to notice what listening filters you are listening through, and have fun trying out some new ones that allow greater love and connection to flow between you!
If you long to feel more fully heard in your relationship, if you’d love to learn lots of communication tools that are fully-tested and work effectively, time and time again, we would LOVE to have you in our next Thrive in Love couples retreat! It’s an amazing weekend of breakthroughs, connection, and joy! You can learn more about our counseling and coaching HERE and our Thrive in Love retreat HERE.
We’re wishing you an abundance of moments where you can soften and relax into each other’s hearts!
Infinite Love and Joy,
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PS: Be sure to download our free guide on the #1 Thing You’re NOT Doing That’s Preventing You From Thriving (full of relationship advice that will make a positive difference overnight).