The word ‘listen’ is surely the most overused word of the young year so far. Yup, everyone has been having a jolly good time so far poking fun at Ms. Sharifah and her animal-laced rant. Speaking among friends, I realized that by popular consensus – perhaps the worst thing she did was interrupting her opponent midway, not letting her finish and taking away her microphone. A prime example of a poor listener.
While it may seem like a really elementary topic, listening well is surely one of the most powerful things to maintain a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t such good listeners. We might be really good at making our own points clear and drowning out our companion’s voice – but is that effective communication?
Listening well maintains open communication between you and your partner – so less time arguing and trying to figure each other out – and more time for enjoying each other’s company. It also makes your partner feel a lot more special and loved. So let’s look at some tips for better listening.
Pay Full Attention
Give your partner the respect of your full, utmost, undivided attention. OK – so you need to update twitter 20 times a day, are contractually obligated to check your emails every 2 hours, and need to constantly ‘check in’ so that your admirers know exactly where you are. The sun won’t rise tomorrow if you don’t do these.
Fine – do them then.
But put away your phone, laptop, and all other electronic devices when you’re spending quality time with your special someone. We all know how irritating it is talking to someone who constantly seems distracted by some electronic device. Give him all your focus – and look him in the eye as he speaks. Don’t worry about the sun not rising tomorrow. It will.
I hear this all the time. “I want to listen to him, but we always end up arguing instead.” We’re all adults. We all have strong opinions and ways of doing things. When someone has a differing point of view, we feel like taking up arms and defending our point. Or even worse, we feel like we want to immediately correct our companion and start preaching to him. It’s only for his good right?
Debating with or interrupting your companion is just an act straight out the book of Sharifah though. It’s surely one of the most difficult things to do (especially when you’re at loggerheads), but do hold your tongue and let your partner finish whatever he wants to say before responding. Instead of cutting him off to interject your points, ask questions to draw out more and more of what he thinks and feels.
“Why did you do that?” “How do you feel about that?” “What can we do to make things better?”
Everyone wants to speak their point and be heard. Grant him the space for this – and then you can talk about your thoughts/feelings once he’s done. I assure you he’ll take them a lot better, once he’s said his piece.
Along the lines of the previous point, but an important step deeper. Paying full attention and letting him say exactly how he feels don’t mean much unless you really try to see things from his point of view. Try to really understand his motivations and feelings about what he’s talking about. You may not agree fully – but at least try to understand. It’ll help you understand your guy a lot better.
Aristotle said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” That’s the difference between an educated mind, and a feeble, closed one. Not a PHD, Masters, Degree or O Levels.
And finally, the golden rule of communication:
The best way to get someone to listen to you is to listen to them first.
(Photos: madamenoire.com, mystudenthalls.com)