Turns Out You've Been "Listening" All Wrong — Here's The RIGHT Way

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Listening is a skill you have to learn. True listening is neither intuitive nor automatic, so it's no wonder that your husband or boyfriend doesn't know how to listen to you. He's never been taught how! And neither have you, probably.

Fortunately for everyone, it's not as difficult as it seems.

The following technique was developed based on some recent neuroscience discoveries. I've used it to teach inmates serving life sentences to stop violence in maximum security prisons. He has taught teachers how to calm angry students while maintaining control. He has taught professional mediators how to de-escalate high conflict. He has taught parents how to de-escalate their upset Asperger's child.

It's powerful and it works.

Here are the 4 things things you SHOULD be doing to when truly listening to someone:

1. Ignore the words.

This sounds crazy, but when you're truly listening to somebody you're not listening to the words, you're listening to their emotions. Therefore, the first thing you have to learn is to ignore the words. So if he's listening to you, he has to learn to ignore your words and listen to your emotions. Likewise, if you're listening to him, you have to ignore his words and listen to his emotions.

2. Listen with more than your ears.

As humans, we're acutely sensitive to nonverbal information. In fact, 94 percent of the information we get from others is nonverbal. When you pay attention to the words, you're actually ignoring that 94 percent.

So, if you just relax, don't over think it, and pay attention to him, what he's experiencing emotionally will come to you automatically. Likewise, if he can learn to relax, ignore your words, and simply pay attention to what comes into his consciousness, what you're experiencing emotionally will flow to him.

3. Label the emotions.

As you sense his emotions, simply label them out loud. For example, you would say, "You're angry, frustrated, and pissed off." Sometimes, you have to guess at his emotions. That's okay. If you make a mistake, he will automatically and preconsciously correct you. He might say, "I'm not angry, I'm just really tired and frustrated." You would respond, "Oh, you're tired and frustrated. "

If he's listening to you, his task is to simply guess at what your emotional experience is. If he gets it wrong, you will automatically correct him. He should immediately respond with the correct emotion.

Forget everything you ever learned about active listening. It doesn't work. This is not active listening. You are not mirroring back words or paraphrasing thoughts. In fact, if you simply mirror his words, you will make him even more emotional. Likewise, if he does this to you, you will not feel listened to. Labeling emotions is a better way.

4. Watch for the head nod.

When you get it right, he will nod his head, say "Yeah, yeah," drop his shoulders, and sigh. These are all preconscious, automatic responses to deep empathic listening. He won't even realize that he's done this. However, these are the indicators that you've deeply connected with him. You can quit for the moment.

Try this skill on him first. As it begins to work for you, don't be afraid to ask him to simply label your emotions.

He's not a mind reader and has probably never paid attention to your emotions in a deep way before. You have to be kind and gentle with this. The payoff is huge if you can both get it right. You will have a deep, intimate connection unlike any you have ever experienced before.

 For more information on this new listening skill, check out Doug's online course at

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