So now you've come back together again after your cool-down period all relaxed and ready to be attentive. Great! You and your lover should go to a place free from distractions so nothing will disturb you and face each other, as you are now each going to take turns expressing your thoughts and feelings about your issue at-hand. One of you will be the speaker and the other will be the listener. No interrupting, Listener! Speaker gets center stage right now--you'll have your chance later! Speaker should have 3-5 minutes to share his perspective to keep the conversation concise and focused, and this also avoid the monopolizing of "airtime"; typically one partner can be more verbal than the other and this allows equal sharing-time.
No matter how much you get the urge to break-in should your partner say something that you don't like, hold it back! It's not about you right now, it's about you demonstrating to your man that you care and are invested in understanding life through his frame-of-reference, no matter how different it may be from yours. Listening is not about agreeing with your boyfriend and doing what he says, it's about being fully present and gaining clarity into each other's experience of your relationship. Be aware of any internal or external factors that could distract you and redirect yourself back to your listening responsibility. Nonverbal communication is integral as well. Make sure you have an open body posture, maintain good eye contact, give affirmative head nods and the occasional "mmm-hmm's", etc.
Step 3: LISTEN!
Now it's time to respond to demonstrate that you really heard your partner's message and can articulate his thoughts, feelings, needs, and experience nondefensively and without judgment. Speaker goes through a three-step process now to enact this type of scenario. Relationship expert Harville Hendrix developed a technique called Intentional Dialogue to provide a structure for open communication. The steps involved in this strategy include:
1.Mirroring: Repeat what you heard your partner say in your own words. You might use a sentence stem like "What I heard you say was..." Your partner will confirm if you are accurate or will help clarify the message for you until you can mirror it precisely. Avoid parroting back what your lover said word-for-word; instead, paraphrase back what you heard in your own language for more meaning and depth.
2.Validation: Find some grain of logic in what your partner communicated and convey this back to him. "That makes sense to me because..."is a good lead-in. You don't have to agree with what your partner said, but it's vital to tell him how and why his experience makes sense to you for the ultimate in making
him feel acknowledged and safe.
3.Empathy: Put yourself in your boyfriend's shoes and imagine what the experience must feel like for him, and say something to the effect of "I imagine that might make you feel..."