Proactive Partner Listening

This month we’re talking about the topic of listening. Today I thought we’d start off talking about listening to your partner because that’s one of the biggest challenges in our lives, and unfortunately the one that we usually give the least amount of attention to, when it should be one of our highest priorities.

First of all, if you really want your partner to listen to you, you can’t be screaming or cursing at them. They will completely shut down and block you out. Being rude to them will do the same thing. In fact, doing all or any of these things may result in them doing the exact opposite of what you want just to spite you. Yelling and rudeness isn’t the way to start a conversation if you want someone to listen to you.

So assuming that you and they aren’t screaming/cursing/being rude and instead are having a relatively calm discussion, first you need to be open to hearing what they have to say. Second, you can’t be just planning out your response to them or thinking about all the things that you have to do. It may be helpful for each of you to be taking notes with pen and paper if it’s a serious and in-depth conversation. Taking notes will allow you to really hear what they’re saying and you’ll be able to go back after they’re done and talk about each of the things they said if necessary.

Listening also means asking questions, and no, I don’t mean the sarcastic or rude ones. I mean asking questions that will help you better understand where they’re coming from, what they’re feeling, what they’re experiencing and what results they would like. Asking questions also has to do with coming up with solutions that work for everyone, or at least the largest number of people possible.

I know it can be really hard to have discussions with your partner (or anyone) about really emotional topics, things that really bother you or serious issues. But if you both are open to having those discussions and are both open to listening and discussing and coming up with solutions that create the biggest wins for everyone involved, those discussions will go a lot easier.

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