Are You Listening?
If you’re like me and most of my clients, I can safely guess that one of your deepest desires is to be heard.
But, are you listening?
When your partner tells you something, are you:
|Waiting for him to take a breath so you can tell him that he got the events wrong / remembered it wrong?||Interrupting him to explain yourself because he’s getting *you* wrong?|
|Listening to what he’s saying?||Listening to the feelings and needs he’s expressing beneath/through the words?|
**spoiler alert** number one and number two aren’t listening 🙉
Not only will he feel you’ve not heard him,
but he’ll also likely feel attacked, not good enough (always wrong, can’t get anything right with you)..
..and even more reluctant to share anything with you again for quite some time.
Besides the fact that you’ve probably spiralled into a shouting match by this point, or one of you have left the room hurt, angry, or both
once you’ve forgotten this incident, not long into the future, you’ll be wondering why he doesn’t open up to you.
He might’ve been talking about something relatively mundane, but if you weren’t able to hear him with that, he for sure won’t risk sharing anything deeper or more vulnerable with you.
WHAT CAN YOU DO INSTEAD?
REGULATE YOUR OWN NERVOUS SYSTEM
When he shares something that triggers you – focus on your heart and on taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. The quicker you regulate your nervous system and can become present, the better you’ll be able to communicate and stay connected. It’ll also help you keep this door open to his inner world in the future.
BE CURIOUS INSTEAD OF MAKING ASSUMPTIONS
Instead of reacting and telling him he’s wrong, or explaining yourself, pause and ask him “when you said…, did you mean…” or say “the story I’m telling myself about what you just said is…” and tell him what you’ve just assumed or the meaning you took from what he said. Let him clarify if necessary.
REFLECT BACK WHAT YOU HEARD/UNDERSTOOD
When he’s shared, try paraphrasing what you heard so you can be clear you understand what he’s actually saying (rather than any meaning you’ve taken from it). If you’ve added your own spin, he can correct it before it becomes something unnecessarily bigger and more fraught.
EMPATHISE WITH HIM
But the gold standard of listening is to listen for what emotions or needs he’s trying to express and empathise with him before going on to share your own perspective. You can try and guess the emotion “it sounds like you’re feeling…, that’s hard!” Or the need “it sounded like you wanted.., and..”.
VALIDATE HIS UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
Even if his perspective is different from yours, and you disagree with it, you can, if you want to, validate his experience if it makes logical sense that he’d feel that because he has certain views, beliefs, or experiences. “it makes sense to me that you’d feel…, because…” .
INVITE HIM TO SHARE MORE
You can then ask him if he wants to say any more about that before you share your own perspective. “Tell me more..” is a simple invitation that works wonders when used in this situation.
WHY SHOULD YOU DO THIS?
If you’re a Questioner, like me (from Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendency Quiz), you might find yourself more willing to practice this skill if you know why it’s worth the effort.
👂 Actively listening to him
💗 Leading with curiosity or empathy when you respond, and
🔎 Getting clarity instead of assuming
..will all help your partner to feel safe to open up to you again in the future.
It’ll also pave the way for you both to hear each other better (you can even gently guide this when you’re wanting to be heard – “hold on, can you let me know what you heard me say before you explain yourself to me?”).
And through that, to develop more emotional safety in your relationship and a deeper understanding of each other as two separate human beings, living individual lives together, with unique perspectives (even of the exact same event!).
And that safety and understanding will both create richer, deeper connection.. and also, interestingly, remind you of your separateness and so make space for the spark of attraction to arc between you!
- Do you already do this and it works for you?
- Do you already try some of these and they don’t work for you (and you’d appreciate more tips to help with that)?
- You think this is all BS (let me know why, what your problem is instead, and I’ll write something specific to help with that!
Yes, really 🙂 )
Use the chat box in the corner to let me know privately, or drop your thoughts into the comment box below!
Are you ready for personalised advice to fast-track your own relationship personal development work?
Skills and perspectives like these ☝️ are one of my specialities and I’d love to chat and see if they (or something else out of my toolkit) are what you need right now to improve your relationship and take it to the next (and way more enjoyable) level.
If you’re ready to have fundamental emotional, energetic, and mindset shifts in your relationship with the man you love, that can open the door to a new way of relating that’s refreshingly honest, deeply intimate, and incredibly fulfilling, and you’d like to find out how I can help you to do that, then hit that button and let’s arrange something.