Sometimes, such partners are reluctant to let you know if they have a negative reaction to what you are saying. If your partner is not receiving what you are saying as you intended, and you persist in talking without understanding your partner’s reaction, your partner could become more and more upset by what you are saying, stop listening, get very confused, mentally object or silently argue with you, or not want to be talked to at all. If you don’t use attentive speaking to see the clues, you can be chattering blithely along, and suddenly your partner will react with anger, misunderstand you or just not be interested in listening any more, and all your efforts to communicate are wasted. By using guidelines that follow, you can figure out when you aren’t communicating well or getting the reaction you want.
Using attentive speaking will help you:
• Avoid overwhelming your partner with too much information at once, (because you will notice when he or she looks overwhelmed, bored or distracted)
• Keep your partner’s interest in what you have to say, (by teaching you how to ask a question when you see your partner’s attention slipping away)
• Understand when what you say is misunderstood, (by observing facial expressions and noticing when they’re different than what you expect)
• Gauge your partner’s reaction when he or she doesn’t say anything (by facial expressions, body language and attentiveness)
• tell when your partner is too distracted, stressed or upset to really hear what you’re saying (by facial expressions, body language and attentiveness)
These steps will help you learn to speak attentively.
1. Watch your listener. When it is important to you to communicate effectively, be careful not to get so engrossed in what you are saying that you forget to watch your partner. Keep your eyes on your partner’s face and body, which will let your partner know you care if her or she hears you, increase your partner’s tendency to make eye contact with you, and therefore cause him or her to listen more carefully.
2. Look for clues in your partner’s facial expression (a smile, a frown, a glassy eyed stare) body position (upright and alert, slumped and sullen, turned away from you and inattentive) and movements (leaning toward you, pulling away from you, fidgeting, restlessness). For example, if you say “I love you” and you observe that your partner turns away and looks out the window, you are getting clues that you weren’t received the way you wanted to be. Either your partner is too distracted to hear you, or he or she is having a problem with what you said.