Do you ever feel like you’re having a conversation with someone, but they’re not really listening?
Maybe they’re scrolling on their phone, or nodding along while you talk, but not really engaging with what you’re saying.
Maybe you’ve caught yourself doing the same thing, going on autopilot and assuming you already know what the other person is going to say.
If so, you’re not alone.
Listening, like any skill, takes practice. As someone who’s been married for over 20 years, I know firsthand how important it is to really listen to the people we care about. My husband and I recently started marriage counseling…again! Not because anything is wrong, but because we wanted to deepen our understanding and love for each other. And one of the things we’ve learned is that listening is key to a healthy relationship.
There are many ways we can listen.
Basic listening gives attention and takes notice of what someone has said.
Selective listening is like listening with a filter. Instead of listening to the entire message, you only pay attention to parts that feel relevant to you. Defensive listening is when you hear innocent statements and take them as personal attacks.
And, on the other end of the spectrum is deep listening. This type of listening means listening from a deep, receptive, and caring place in oneself, to the deeper and subtler levels of meaning and intention from the other person. (Thanks marriage counseling)!
In my marriage, we were both doing a lot of selective and defensive listening, and not as much deep listening as we would like to. We were both moving fast, making assumptions, and getting into action rather than just listening. Our marriage counselor helped us with shifting our listening and had us practice active and reflective listening.
It has made a huge difference. And, it can help you in ANY relationship where you want to build trust, good communication, and well-being.
Here are three steps to actively and reflectively listen:
- Listen without needing to fix the situation, person, or to prepare a rebuttal.
- Pay attention to what the person is saying and the words they are using.
- Repeat back what you hear them say, using their words.
- Ask if you got it right so that they feel understood.
It takes practice to get active listening down. In the beginning, it can sound like, “I hear you feel overwhelmed, but I told you I would do it and I just haven’t gotten to it yet.” Spoiler alert, that does not make the other person feel better and can actually cause the other person to shut-down or go on the defense.
Being heard is essential for human growth. Having someone really hear what you are saying calms your internal regulating system and creates internal safety.
We all have things we want someone to listen to, places in us that we want to reveal, and pieces that we want to talk about.
Listening is intimate, especially when we aren’t trying to fix anything for anyone. Listening creates vulnerability, trust, and a deeper sense of honesty. Listening and being listened to can create higher self-esteem, feelings of self-worth, belonging, and harmony.
It’s time you were listened to. I am ready and have my listening and hearing ears on. Reach out for a complimentary consultation.