Most discussions on communication center around speaking. We learn about what we want to say, who we want to say it to, how we want to say it, and if we are even more aware, we actually think about what our intention is in saying it. We often prepare for a speech, a conversation or a meeting where we need to present ideas and information. But how often do you “prepare” to listen? How often do you think about the quality of your listening, or even ask yourself the question, “How do I want to listen?”
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Yet listening is probably the most important part of communication. After all, if no one is listening, why bother to say anything? The way we listen can give someone the experience of being heard or it can give someone the experience of being judged, analyzed, “fixed,” dismissed or a host of other experiences. In the listening model I teach, you can learn how to deeply hear into another person’s communication. This will take you beyond the spoken word, to the essence of what they are saying and feeling. You can learn to let go of judgment and biases that you have about the other person and be present to them and to their communication.
When we are truly listened to, something transformational happens. Our spirits soar. We feel like someone really “gets” who we are. We matter. We exist in the listening of the other. We come into being through the quality of their listening. We hear ourselves. We take our true place in the relationship. Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can offer your partner throughout your entire relationship. It often creates an enormous sense of relief and many times is actually all that may be needed to resolve a problem. Problems are often resolved just in the listening.
In order to listen fully we need to become aware of what impedes listening. Begin to become aware of what you do other than listen. For example: judge, analyze, state your opinion, change the subject, drift off, tell your story, offer advice, agree, disagree, tell them what they should or shouldn’t do.
When you stop all of that real listening becomes possible. Try this instead: