How To Become A Better Listener

Big Ears

Help your partner feel understood by using these steps and asking these questions!

Several years ago a woman called me to get some help on her marriage. After a couple of sessions her husband agreed to come for couples coaching. On the calls it seemed like neither partner practiced listening to the other one effectively.

Because of this, neither one felt understood, so conflict seemed to be the way they showed each other that their needs were going unmet.

I asked them questions, such as: "Do you know what makes him feel disrespected? Did you ever ask her what she most wants or needs from you? Do you know why it's important for her to talk about her work?"

These questions allowed the couple to access their own inner wisdom, and they realized how much better they could listen to and understand one another. Over a period of several weeks they began to hear and feel one another again, and this simple shift was enough to save their marriage.

Deep listening is an amazing gift to give, and it carries with it a powerful benefit: heartfelt connection. The root of communication means to commune, to be at one with another. One of the most satisfying things about being in a conscious relationship is that we can both speak and feel understood. How Compassion Facilitates Forgiveness

In conversation, do you perceive another's pain, desires, needs, and values? Do you regularly hold a space for others to express their thoughts and emotions or help them discover their truth and inner guidance? If you do, you are likely supporting them toward a greater sense of meaning, love, and healing.

People who feel listened to are more willing to be vulnerable, which invites deeper levels of honesty, sharing, and intimacy. How would you rate the mastery of your listening ability on a scale from one to ten? Have you recently brought tears of love to another just because you made them feel understood? If not, let's look at a few aspects that can support your listening skills and quality of relationships.

Listen With Presence
To be an outstanding listener, we must give the other person our full attention and interest as if nothing else but him or her matters at that moment. If you would rather be somewhere else or with someone else, the other person will energetically feel it at some level and in that degree disconnect from you.

Distracted listening fosters frustration, disrespect, and confusion. Your loving consideration can make that person feel significant, help him to get clear, allow him to connect to his emotions, and discover what he truly believes, values, desires, and fears. Such awareness can allow him to make more workable choices.

Do others feel your love when you are listening? If not, try listening with every cell in your body and not just with your ears. Don't just hear the words, but feel them with your heart or better yet, with your entire body as if it was a sponge soaking up the expressions of another. Are You a Good Listener?

Listen For Essence
Although it's extremely important to accurately hear the content of what someone says to us, it is often significantly more important to receive the essence of what's being said.

Essence includes, but is not limited to, the silence between the words; tone of voice, inflection, and genuineness; repeated or emphasized ideas; emotions; why something is being said; and what's being left out. Essence is around, underneath, and inside the energy of the words.

When your heart is open, you'll perceive what is being expressed at the heart of another's words. Seek to understand the feelings, beliefs, needs, fears, pain, and yearnings of the ones you care about.

When you perceive that someone is trying to communicate more than he is saying, if appropriate, be willing to ask questions that help to clarify your knowingness. "What I sense you are getting at is …" or "What else do you feel about that?" Compassionate Listening

Then, allow the other person the space to discover and reveal deeper levels of his heart and mind. How many times in relationships have you argued with someone about one thing, and when you stopped and truly listened, you realized that it wasn't even the real issue? Instead of making assumptions as if you already know what the other person is thinking and what their motives and needs are, simply ask.

It will also help you to be aware of the context surrounding another's words. His context includes the location and conditions from where he is speaking (airport, bedroom, car, with company, etc.) as well as what has gone on or is going on in his life (he started a new relationship, is moving or switching jobs, or has an ill mother).

Context and emotion greatly impact what's actually being shared and why. If you get people's context and motivation, they'll feel moved by the way you pay attention. 3 Steps To Tell Him How You Feel And Connect To His Heart

Ask Powerful Questions
Here are some questions to ask in order to more fully understand the heart of your child, partner, friend, relative, or coworker:

  • What is most important to him right now?
  • What does she yearn for or dream about?
  • What inspires or energizes him, and what takes his energy away?
  • What is her greatest fear, pain, or wound?
  • Why is he experiencing the emotions he is?
  • What allows her to feel safe or vulnerable, and what causes her to close down?
  • What is his pattern when he is scared, tired, or overwhelmed?
  • What restores her, makes her feel easier, or brings her peace?
  • What is his communication style (i.e., visual, auditory, digital, and/or kinesthetic)?
  • What makes her feel most loved (words of appreciation, gifts, quality time given to them, touch, understanding)?

Quiz: What's Your Communication Style?

Finally, have fun listening! The quality of your energy is the most important thing you give in communication. You can read about other aspects of listening in my new book: Being Love: 26 Keys to Experiencing Unconditional Love, available on and

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.