Good communication is at the basis of a healthy relationship. But communication is a skill that needs to be acquired and worked at. Listening is a fundamental part of good communication.
Couple communication skills involve both talking and listening. The very first skill to learn is active listening. Being able to express yourself clearly is an important facet of good communication skills.
Being able to listen to what is being said is an important skill. Learning how to listen well could be the single most important thing you can do to maintain a relationship. So how do you listen to what your partner is trying to tell you?
Understand what your partner is talking to you about
There are different types of discussions. Your partner might be talking about chores or sharing their feelings. A good listener should be able to understand if they need to listen or if they are being asked to help find a solution. Attentive listening could be the first step towards resolving or averting a crisis. Not being heard can be hurtful, even if they are simply expressing their appreciation.
Stop what you are doing
Active listening means that you are doing just that. You should be involved in the communication. Once you realize that your spouse is talking to you, stop what you are doing and listen.
This can be as simple as saying yes, uh huh or go on, or it can be feedback where you actually rephrase what your spouse has said. Giving feedback is a deceptively simple but extremely effective technique. Listen to what they have said, pause, assimilate and then tell them what you have understood.
If you have any doubt about not being able to remember something that is being said then take notes. As with any business meeting, you need to be able to remember over time, especially if you have been discussing organizational aspects. Important dates can also go into cell phone calendars, and reminders or alarms can be set up.
Sometimes what is being said can be hurtful or repetitive. But interrupting can be downright rude. You might need to say something or ask for more information, but hear it out, wait for your turn and then speak.
Don’t lose your temper
Giving in to temper during a conversation shows that you are responding to your own ego needs. Wait it out and listen properly. When it is your turn, you can express how and why you feel hurt. Getting angry will interrupt communication.
Don’t advise if it’s not being asked for
Listening means just that. Listen, try and understand what your partner is telling you. They might not be asking for advice. They might be talking to you because they need to be heard. Unsolicited advice can be irritating and counterproductive. Ask if they need advice from you before offering.
Finish the conversation
Listen out to the end. Walking out in the middle of a conversation shows a lack of respect for the person who is talking. Make sure that you have understood everything, ask your spouse if they need anything else and check that everything has been resolved before moving on to something else.
Apologizing is a way of taking responsibility. It’s very difficult to say sorry, apologizing shows that you are not laying blame and are prepared to collaborate. This demonstrates that you value the relationship more than your pride.
Make an effort to give them what they need
Once you have listened to what is being said and you understand it properly then try to respond accordingly. If they need a shoulder to cry on, be present. If its help with the chores, pitch in. If it’s a complaint, try and deal with it.