Listening is a pivotal skill in relationships. When we do it well, it can create a soul-nourishing moment; when we do it poorly, it can wreak havoc. The reason it is so pivotal is because human beings like to be heard. We believe we have something important to say and we want others to listen. When we don’t feel as though we have been heard, we… speak LOUDER. When that doesn’t work, we – SPEAK LOUDER still. This can go on incessantly until either we give up out of frustration, give a 20 minute lecture or get into a screaming match and bully our way into “being heard.”
Unfortunately none of these approaches work, although you wouldn’t know it by how often they are used. If you want to learn to listen better, then you have to stop talking long enough to listen. Close your mouth, open your ears and pretend you care about what the other person is trying to tell you. Pretend your partner is your best friend or a highly respected mentor and listen from that place — you may be shocked to find out that what they have to say is actually meaningful.
Challenge: Focus on truly listening to your partner for the next two weeks. Commit to not interrupt, get defensive or throw the responsibility back on your partner. Try for two whole days to listen as though your partner were someone you greatly admired and had the utmost respect for. Take note of any changes when you listen from this place.