How to Improve Your Relationship with Active Listening
There are many reasons why people can be unhappy with their relationship. One of the prime concerns people often have is that they and their partner just don’t seem to be able to communicate well. While love is the foundation of a relationship, good communication is the cornerstone. Without it, the structure is unbalanced and ready to topple.
If your relationship isn’t going well you may be able to significantly improve matters if you and your partner practice the art of active listening. When communication breaks down in a relationship the problem is often that instead of listening and talking with each other couples begin to shout over one another. Both want to be heard, but their words are not listened to. Individuals resort to raising their voice, and forget to listen to their partner. A never ending battle ensues.
Listening though, isn’t just about biting your tongue and letting your partner have their say, although this helps. Your partner wants to be heard and taken notice of, and so do you. Real listening, as opposed to make shift listening, involves making an effort to really hear and show that you understand what your partner is saying. In order for things to improve, they need to show you the same courtesy in return.
How to begin
To begin you and your partner will need to agree to take this positive step towards improving your relationship. For balance and unity to prevail both of you need to make an equally strong effort to communicate well with each other.
The next step
It may seem formal to schedule an appointment with your partner in order to practice active listening, but doing so will benefit you both. When you clear a space just for them, and they for you, you are both already taking a step towards showing each other respect and giving each other undivided attention.
You and your partner may decide to improve communicating with each other once a day, or once every few days depending on how busy you are. When you begin its important both of you take turns speaking and listening in each session so neither one is left waiting to talk and be heard.
How to actively listen
When you and your partner listen to each other you mustn’t butt into what the other is saying. You must also agree not to argue about feelings. If one of you says they feel hurt, whether you feel it’s justified or not, believe it is so, and they should do the same for you.
Use body language to demonstrate you hear what your partner is saying and are focusing on them. This can be done in several ways. Nodding, leaning towards them as they speak, smiling encouragingly when appropriate and tilting your head to the side are all ways you can both show you are listening.
You can glean more information from your partner and gain greater understanding by paraphrasing what they tell you when they’ve finished speaking. Paraphrasing involves saying back to them what they have just told you, but picking different descriptive words. This shows that you’ve really understood what they had to say. If you don’t understand ask for clarification.
Active listening etiquette for couples
Tone- Keep your tone on an even level. Don’t shout or raise your voice.
Speech-Speak evenly too. Don’t rush what you want to say. Speak calmly so that your partner can keep up with you.
Accept- Accept what your partner has to say, even if it seems wrong to you. You may disagree. That’s fine, but let your partner have their point of view. Later on you may understand it better when you’ve had time to think.
Focus- Concentrate on time spent improving communication. Take the phone of the hook if necessary and avoid distractions. Give each other the gift of full attention.
It’s one thing to listen to someone and understand what they are trying to say, but it’s a different ball game when it’s your partner and you have to digest material and make sense of it. This is why it’s important to take time alone to think about what’s been said during each communication session.
Eventually you should begin to gain greater understanding of each others point of view and needs within the relationship. The next step is to work on your findings.