Have you ever:
Been downright frustrated during a conversation with your spouse or long-time partner?
Tried to resolve a conflict and got nowhere or it escalated and ended up even worse?
Forgotten how to listen or felt you were not being heard?
If you answered yes to any of these questions don't feel alone. When I coach with couples these are some of the most common complaints leaving people feeling hopeless, lonely, angry, sad or frustrated. If we can't talk out our issues or have a rewarding conversation about our wants, needs, hopes and dreams then what of substance do we have left in our partnerships?
What happened; our relationships didn't start out that way?
First, I'd like to say that one of my concerns about society as a whole is that we may be losing the "fine art of discussion" and I'd like to encourage you to revive it within all of your conversations. Due to media overload in our lives and in some cases social media we seem to have a propensity to label, categorize, define and judge or we have our minds all made up with no room for the opinions of others. But I will leave this direction of dialogue for now so I can get straight to some concepts to practice within your relationships that will help you to communicate lovingly.
So what is the Missing Link?
The missing link within communication is the "listening" part. I'll cover the talking part in another blog post but for now the focus is on listening. Hearing is done with the ears but listening involves the heart and truly listening to what your partner has to say is one of the greatest gifts you can give to them.
What can you do to become a better listener, increase intimacy and resolve conflicts?
Here are 5 tips to practice
1) Remain Curious - My first suggestion and what I feel is the most important is to remain curious. No matter how long you have been together offer your partner a curious attitude about what they are really saying and don't assume you already know.
2) Dig Deeper - Ask yourself what feelings and needs may be underneath what they are saying and when in doubt ask.
3) Listen with your Heart - This may sound odd to you but if you can listen to your partner's requests, feelings and needs as you would a sweet innocent child and have the desire to meet the needs your interactions will begin to change.
4) Suspend Judgment - Even if you do not agree with what they are saying or what they believe in find ways to respect your differences. It's okay to disagree and again curiosity is key.
5) Be Attentive not Defensive-Another huge block to listening is defensiveness! Breathe into your heart, slow down, and listen fully before responding to a complaint, concern, or request. Check this out and you may see that many times your partner is not asking for something that is too big, impractical, difficult, or out of your control. It's the little things that count and when you listen to what they really want and need you will begin to feel joy once you see the joy it brings to them. You will also see a shift in your partner's attitude towards you when they feel heard, it's a win-win!
As always, it is helpful to hear from you with comments, questions or concerns.
Please comment below!