Active listening can be very challenging at times for couples, especially during heated arguments. In the previous post, we focused on the steps to help you be an effective speaker. Now, we offer 7 steps to help you listen more effectively:
1.Remember that everyone has their own beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and “truths” regarding an issue or concern. So, when listening to your partner, get curious about their “truth” instead of trying to convince them that your “truth” is more “true” or important. More often than not, you’ll find you’re both saying the same things, just in different ways.
2.Remind yourself that you did not (and cannot ever) cause your partner’s feelings. Thus, there is no need to get defensive. They are just revealing and expressing their perceptions, feelings and “truths” to you. Don’t invalidate their feelings by telling them they have no reason to feel that way. The fact that they feel a certain way is enough for it to be valid.
3.Disarm Instead of Defend. Instead of reacting defensively, find some truth in what your partner is saying, even if it seems totally unreasonable or unfair.
4.Show empathy. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try to see the world through his or her eyes. Paraphrase your partner’s words. Acknowledge how your partner is probably feeling, based on what she or he said. Remember, understanding your partner’s perception and “truth” does NOT mean agreement on your part. You just want to make sure you have it straight.
5.Ask questions. Ask questions, if needed, to help you understand your partner’s perception of the issue or concern.
6.”I Feel” Statements. Express your own ideas and feelings in a direct, tactful manner. Use “I feel” statements, such as “I feel upset,” rather than “you” statements, such as “You’re wrong!” or “You’re making me furious!”
7.Convey Respect. Convey an attitude of respect, even if you feel frustrated or angry with the other person. Find something genuinely positive to say to the other person, even in the heat of battle.
Remember, we have two hears and only one mouth. This reminds us that we need to be listening more than we speak during discussions with our partner or anyone we are communicating with! We hope these help!