“You never listen to me!”
If I had a penny for each time I heard a client complaining that their partner “never listens”, I’d be a very wealthy man.
The video below is like the ‘Listening 101’ class that you never took at school.
It’s only 7 minutes long, but you’ll learn simple listening skills that will make your partner feel loved, heard and cared for.
More than anything, in romantic relationships we human beings want to feel heard by our lovers.
It’s almost a primal need for us.
When we don’t feel heard by our spouse, disconnection happens and we may feel that our partner doesn’t actually love us.
I’m going to share 4 simple tips and techniques that you can use to make you a better listener.
The first is:
1. BE RESPONSIVE
Have you ever used a walkie-talkie? If you have, you’ll have heard someone saying “…do you copy?” at the end of their sentence.
That phrase is designed to elicit feedback from the other person confirming whether or not they received the message you were sending them.
In face to face conversations, however, we don’t directly ask for feedback – we look for non-verbal responses to our words in the other person’s facial expressions, voice tone, and body movements.
If you and your partner are struggling to connect and finding that fights don’t get resolved, you’ve probably both stopped being responsive to each other.
There’s a ton of empirical research that suggests that if you and your spouse are not responsive, your marriage or relationship won’t make it.
One way you can be responsive with your partner when they’re talking to you, and you’re listening which will make you a better listener, is to just simply nod your head.
This lets them know that you’re actually listening.
Or you could say things like…
“uh-huh”, “I get it…”, “I understand…”, “oh… right!”
Those kinds of phrases show your partner that you’re actively engaged in listening to them and almost set their unconscious mind at ease being able to relax, knowing that you’re paying attention.
One of the common objections I hear to listening attentively is “Bruce but… if I’m just listening all the time my partner never stops talking!”
I respond with, “They never stop talking because they never feel heard by you.”
If you’re showing them that you’re interested and you are listening attentively, they’ll talk less and before long it’ll be your turn to talk.
My second tip for being a super-hero listener is:
2. NO MULTITASKING WHEN LISTENING
Stop everything you’re doing when your partner is speaking.
Have you ever driven your car home while talking on a cell phone?
You get home, you hang up the call, and you realize that you don’t remember anything about the journey home.
Well, then you’ve experienced what it’s like to have split attention or divided attention.
When your partner is speaking to you and you’re doing something else your attention is divided between them and what you’re doing and you won’t be able to do either of them well.
More importantly, your partner won’t feel heard. This will lead to both of you feeling disconnected.
What’s likely to happen is that later on that evening, that disconnection will lead to an argument, which may erupt into a fight.
So rather stop everything you’re doing and give your partner your undivided attention.
If you can’t do that at the moment because perhaps you’re engaged in an important work activity just say:
“Honey, I want to give you 100% of my attention. Can we have this conversation again in an hour when I can be fully present?”
Then set up a time and and show up at that time.
They’re going to love you for it.
My third tip for you is...
3. LISTEN WITHOUT AN AGENDA
What we’re often doing when we think we’re listening to somebody is not actually listening.
Instead, we’re thinking about what we’re going to say back to them in response.
This is particularly prevalent when you’re having an argument or a fight with somebody…
They’re making their case with you and you’re not listening to a word they’re saying. You’re listening to the inner voice in your head, that internal dialogue.
If you’re wondering what voice I’m referring to, it’s the little voice that just said… “What voice?”
You’re listening to that voice in your head comment about what they’re saying and plot what you’re gonna say back.
So one of the most beautiful gifts you can give your partner is just to listen to them for the sake of listening.
You’ll both feel a whole lot more connected to each other.
The fourth tip for becoming a rock star listener who leaves your partner feeling completely heard, understood and loved is to…
4. LISTEN TO LEARN
When you’re listening with the intention of learning, you’re listening curiously to discover something and learn something about your partner…
- What they’re feeling, or
- what they’re thinking, or
- what they believe, or
- what they’re afraid of, or
- what happened in their day.
You’re actively engaged in the process of learning something about them.
What many people (in relationships that don’t work) do is reluctantly pretend to listen.
They’re thinking,… “Yawn… I have to go listen to my partner. I’m just going to pretend I’m listening.”
Men are particularly guilty of this.
They endure the listening process rather than enjoying it.
When you’re listening to learn, you’re actively engaged and your partner can’t help feeling heard because you’re being curious and interested.
Now here’s a common mistake people make when listening. They’re so concerned with listening and giving their partner the experience of being heard, that when the partner says something they don’t understand, they’re too afraid to interrupt.
If your partner says something and you’re not completely clear about what they mean, it’s okay to interrupt your partner. Say to them:
“Honey, I didn’t understand what you just said. Would you help me understand?”
That question gives them permission to contribute to you, which will make them feel important and like you trust them enough to ask for help.
Also, that question will demonstrate that you’re actually interested in understanding what they have to say.
So there you have it… Four tips to make you a superstar listener and have your partner feel heard, which will automatically make you a better lover with a capital L.
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better, happier, healthier, loving relationships and marriages.
If you want to learn how to become a great communicator, not just a great listener, then go and check out my free Relationship Help Course (in the box below). It will provide solutions to your biggest relationship problems.