How to Improve Every Relationship

What is important to a relationship? The resounding answer is always “communication.” The interesting part about communication, though, is that it involves a lot more listening and a lot less talking than we sometimes think.

To be a good communicator, you have to be a good listener.

Listen

Some people seem to be naturally great listeners. My husband is fantastic at this. Others (like me) have to work at it and practice. Anyone can improve their listening skills, though, and it’s definitely worth the effort.

Here are some key things to remember to become a better listener:

  1. Have the time. If you are going through life being busy and having no down time, you won’t have the opportunity to be a good listener. Important conversations aren’t squeezed into a schedule. Spend time with people you care about or you won’t even have the opportunity to listen.
  2. Stop talking. You can’t listen if you’re talking. If somebody has something they need to share, let them share it! My husband wisely said “the less you talk, the more you learn.” I think that is so, so true.
  3. Show that you’re listening. Body cues and simple feedback like “mm hmm” or a nod of your head make such a difference to show that you are fully engaged in what they’re saying and that they have your full attention.
  4. Give support. Validate their emotions by expressing that their feelings are real and that their feelings matter. Don’t give your thoughts on the issue or advice unless they ask for it. This can be a difficult skill to learn, but it makes such a huge difference! Let the person finish speaking completely before you say anything. You don’t have to agree with what they say, but you can still listen effectively and provide that safe space for them to get it all out. Try to avoid taking sides. Work to understand what they’re feeling. And stop judging!

This is such an important skill to practice and improve. The next time somebody comes to you after a long day or with a big problem they want to talk about, try listening intently without interrupting. It’s amazing how helpful this simple technique can be!

What are your best tips for becoming a better listener?

 

 


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