Tired of feeling ignored? Get advice to make requests your partner will actually hear...
“YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!”
Have you ever felt as if you're talking to a brick wall and you want to (or do) scream these words at your partner?
It can be infuriating to have asked your partner to do something and then he or she not only fails to do what you've asked, it's as if you hadn't made the request at all. Your partner might look at you standing there, angry and red-faced, and insist that you didn't say that.
Yelling at your partner may be what you feel like doing, but it's not going to help the situation. So, what WILL help?
Of course, for your partner to really listen to you and follow through on what you've asked is the answer that might come first to your mind...but this isn't something you can force or make happen.
Here's what WILL help your partner really listen to you when you make a request...
#1: Get clear about what you actually want.
When you're irritated with your partner or you're feeling overwhelmed by a situation, it's easy to get off-track during a conversation. Before you communicate with your partner, know what it is you actually want. Check in with yourself because sometimes what you think you want is different from what you actually want.
For example, if you want your mate to call you if he's going to be late home from work, make that your focus. However, if the fact that your partner tends to be a workaholic and staying late at the office happens regularly, what you actually want may be a little different.
In a case like this, asking him to call when he's going to be late doesn't address what the issue is for you. In fact, he might do what you've asked him to do-- call when he's going to be late-- and you'll still feel dissatisfied and unheard.
#2: Say it as a request-- not a criticism.
Now that you are very clear, within yourself, about what you truly want, it's time to communicate that. Where many people run into trouble is that they don't make a request, they criticize or accuse the other person, sometimes they offer an ultimatum.
If you want your mate to shut down, put up walls and not listen to you, then criticism, accusation and ultimatums are the way to go. However, if you want to be listened to and you want to have a close and connected relationship, learn how to make a request.
A request comes from the place of what you want. It is based on what is going on now and not what happened in the past or what you fear will happen (or not happen) in the future. In this present moment, what are the actions you'd like your partner to take?
The action could be something like, “Are you available to listen to me ask you a question?” Or, “Can we talk about our plans for this weekend? I have some ideas and would like your input.”
Ultimatums are a dangerous game to play. To present to your partner the option, “Do this ___ or I will ___” amounts to a threat. Before making an ultimatum, make sure you are actually willing to follow through. In some cases, you might be.
#3: Be specific.
Another stumbling block to effective communication in relationships is confusion. As clear as you think you've been about what you want, your partner might not understand. Be specific and time-specific if that fits.
For instance asking, “Will you help out around the house more?” may mean something completely different to you than it does to the other person. Instead try, “Will you take responsibility for washing and putting away the dishes 3 times a week? How about on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays?”
The second request lets your partner know the way in which you'd like help with housework and when. This request could be the start of a conversation. Your partner might be willing to help more around the house but may want to help in other ways or at other times. Stay open and listen.
#4: Acknowledge it when your partner listens and follows through.
This tip may seem obvious, but how often do you do it?
It might be that your partner seems to ignore you or “forget” what you've asked him or her to do the majority of the time. But, what about those times when your partner does follow through and does tune in and listen to you?
Acknowledge it to yourself when you feel listened to and when your mate keeps his or her word. This is important to notice.
What tends to happen is the irritation, angry and resentment about not feeling heard can overshadow the fact that this isn't what's happening 100% of the time. Make sure you are appreciating whatever percentage of the time your partner does listen and engage with you and know that it can improve from there.
This is powerful stuff and can lead to more agreements being kept and more ease and connection between you and your mate.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.