It is annoying when you talk and the other person doesn’t pay heed to what you say. In many cases, the other person is just hearing (the biological process), not listening to you. Hearing can be done with just open ears whereas listening involves open ears and an open mind (and an open heart).
Good listening should be made a habit. Effective listening offers you several benefits and inspires the speaker to feel loved and appreciated. The habit helps you to connect to the world around you. It improves the quality of your social life. After all, you cannot have a good relationship with someone who just talks but never listens to you.
There are times when you wish to open your heart out to your spouse. This is only possible when you have been a good listener in your relationship. With time, you tend to accumulate a lot of issues, regrets, expectations and complaints. Hence, it is crucial to establish some clear communication sessions on a regular basis. It will help you have a healthy, thriving marriage/relationship.
Here are 6 ways you can be a good listener for your girlfriend/spouse:
1. Listen without Bias
Being biased will not help you to be a good listener. Allow your partner to keep their opinions. It is also important to set your opinions aside for some time. Start by listening to what your spouse is saying and then practice compassion skills to try to comprehend why. You do not have to change your opinion or be someone else to match your spouse’s. Your spouse deserves to be heard and it is your duty to hear her. While listening just avoid filtering out things they say through your bias.
2. Listen with Love
Use affectionate body language and gestures while listening to your spouse. The process does not have to be difficult. You can simply keep an eye contact or nod in affirmation while listening to them. Depending on the situation, you may also hold hands or touch your partner.
3. Listen with Generosity
Your spouse needs your time and attention. Communicating openly will allow your partner to know that you are there for him/her. Listening to your partner generously will help her feel secure about any concerns and fears she may have in her mind.
4. Be Encouraging
Learn to be inspiring and encouraging to your partner. This is the best thing you can do is to tell her to chill. Say things like, ‘don’t worry, I’m with you. Let’s go out and relax’, ‘let’s celebrate’, ‘you can do it’ etc.
5. Show you Know Her
It is important to show your partner that you know who she is. Let her know how you appreciate Make sure your partner feels that you get what they are saying and why they are saying it. Let her know you know her and why she acts in a specific way. Respect and value your spouse for who she is. Use phrases such as “I understand why this is important for you”, “I know why you did that”.
6. Be Caring
Listening is also about letting your partner know you care and support. Show your affection through words. Say things like, ‘don’t worry, I’m with you’, ‘we will figure this out’, we can come over this’ etc. The idea is to express care and support.
Why You Should Be a Better Listener in a Relationship
Regular and effective communication is the backbone of a relationship. Lack of communication leads to frustration and regrets in a relationship. Most people with partners who do not communicate tend to feel alone and sad. In case, you can feel a void between you and your partner, it is time to engage in some listening.
Active listening refers to as a process of ‘really and truly’ listening to the other person. You can achieve this target in several ways:
- Use of non-verbal sounds or movements. This is to show you are listening while allowing the other person to speak.
- Recapping or rewording what the other person says to make sure no misunderstandings crop later on.
- Putting up questions rather instead of making statements/giving instructions.
- Citing one’s opinions, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to ensure you are totally into the other person.
- Accepting/negating the emotions of another person wherever appropriate.
There are a number of reasons active listening is crucial in a relationship. Here is why:
- Removes the scope of the blame game
- Develops a safe space
- Improves communication
- Develops a powerful link between two individuals
- Helps the partner understand you value their opinions and needs
- Motivates the partner to speak without being judged
- Reduces stress
How to Be a Better Listener to My Girlfriend or to My Wife
It is not difficult being a good listener to your spouse/girlfriend. Here are some tips you can follow:
Shift your focus/attention/thoughts to the person who is speaking to you. You need to eliminate all distractions such as moving your attention from laptop, putting the phone down, turning the TV off or stopping your activity.
When you are listening properly to the other person, questions automatically arise about the topic on your mind. You can ask how you can help or what the other person wants you to do.
Listening is also about showing some amount of empathy to the other person. This means you should recognize the given situation and appreciate it too. For instance, you can say things related to the topic and empathize with the other person. Put in your opinion by saying, ‘I can understand/imagine how annoying it is’. This shows you are listening to the emotions expressed by the person through words.
Listening to someone takes a lot of patience. Start by choosing to be quiet. The idea is to allow the other person to finish their thoughts and words prior to jumping into a conclusion or giving feedback.
Ted Talks to watch to be a Better Listener
Watching TED talks will help you boost your communication skills. Here is a list of 5 enlightening TED Talks you can watch to take your listening skills to the next level:
1. Julian Treasure: 5 Ways to Listen Better
Julian Treasure let you understand some scientific reasons why human beings are bad at listening. He will also teach you 5 simple exercises to become a better listener.
2. Clint Smith: The Danger of Silence
Clint asks you to focus on things that are not said in a conversation. His talk will inspire you to understand the dangers of silence in a relationship.
3. Julian Treasure: How to Speak So That People Want to Listen
Julian lets you know how important listen to the other person is while in a conversation. He also outlines many tips and best practices to do so.
4. “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brene Brown
Brene Brown talks about her pursuit to get to know herself and recognize humankind in the process. She also focuses on the importance of listening to the other person while communicating.
5. “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation” by Celeste Headlee
Celeste teaches us various ways to have better conversations and useful rules to be a good listener. You must watch the talk and get few notes on her lessons!
5 Books to Read to be a Better Listener
1. Active Listening 101: How to Turn Down Your Volume to Turn Up Your Communication Skills, by Emilia Hardman, 2012
God gave two ears and one tongue to humans to make them hear more and speak less. The book explains why listening is important and how it can benefit you.
2. The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively, by Helio Fred Garcia, 2012
Listening is a crucial part of developing effective communication skills. This book offers you valuable lessons on developing listening skills as a part of an effective communicator.
3. Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All, by Bernard T. Ferrari, 2012
The book helps the reader go through an easy yet effective step-by-step process to become active listeners. Practical insights in this book will help you learn good listening, its benefits, and how to practice it.
4. Fitly Spoken: Developing Effective Communication and Social Skills, by Greg S. Baker, 2011
The book helps you establish good communication lines with those around you. You will learn to listen to others, learn what to say, how, and when.
5. Harvard Business Review on Communicating Effectively, by Harvard Business Review, 2011
This book is invaluable for those looking forward to improving their communication skills, especially listening ability. It is a must read for all.
Being a good listener is important in a relationship. Silence is a relationship killer. Do not allow it to creep in. Establishing a strong connection with your partner by consciously listening to them.