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14 Ways on How to Be a Better Listener in a Relationship

Communication is at the heart of any relationship. In other words, it’s vital to learn how to be a better listener in a relationship if you want to last.

10 Ways to be a Better Listener in Your Relationship

Has your partner ever complained about your inability to hear what they are saying? It is probably not because you are hard of hearing. You just have a little problem when it comes to listening to your partner. Learn how to be a better listener in a relationship by heeding what we have to say.

You’d be surprised by just how many couples have trouble with effective communication. Most relationship problems are caused by this, which makes it an important skill to master. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship: 16 steps to a better love]

Being a better listener

This happens when one or both of you cannot express yourself in a way that your partner can understand. It can also be because you do not put much value in what your partner is saying. Listening is such a significant part of communicating, so if you want to be better at communication, it begins with being an adequate listener.

If a couple fails to cultivate their ability to connect with each other, the relationship will not last for very long. It is not just about talking. It is about listening to each other’s thoughts and opinions. Not only that, but you also have to be aware of their needs.

If they are not saying it out loud, it means that they are expressing it to you in different ways or sentiments. If you feel that none of it is getting through to you, then the problem lies in your ability to really listen.[Read: Effective communication in your relationship]

How can listening help your relationship?

You might think that listening is effortless, but your partner might not think so. Everything starts from listening – by hearing the details of their day, to listening to their feelings and problems. The minute you’re not giving this to them, they can tell. If you fail to listen, then you’ll also fail to know what exactly it is they’re asking from you.

Listening is the heart and core of communication, and talking only comes next. This is also why when conflict arises, you need to listen to what they’re saying and also to the things they aren’t saying. If you do something as simple as listening, your partner feels loved, acknowledged, seen, and understood all at once.

You’re validating their emotions simply by taking the time to listen to what they’re saying and processing everything they just told you. It’s not just about hearing the words that come out of your partner’s mouth.

You need to understand what they are saying and take it to heart. Don’t just take any idea in a literal sense. You have to read between the lines as well. [Read: How to tell how your partner feels and learn to read their mind]

What are the things that your partner wants to tell you?

In order to become a better listener, you have to be aware of what your partner’s concerns are. Before they even say anything, it is good for you to know what they might want to talk about.

Everyone has a billion thoughts that they might want to talk about with their partner, but there are some topics that are more common for people in relationships.

1. The little things

They can be chores, requests, favors, or even a short narrative about how their day went. These things may seem unimportant at times, but the fact that you are paying attention to them can go a long way with your partner. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that could mean everything to your partner.

So never underestimate listening to your partner if you want to learn how to be a better listener in a relationship. Also, if you’re ignoring them for the little things, how will you react to the big stuff? You don’t have to make a fuss out of what they’re saying, but making them feel like you care is already adequate. [Read: 25 things happy couples talk about]

2. Their feelings

It doesn’t matter how expressive you are about your emotions or how good you are with your words. Listening is all about validating your partner’s feelings so if you can’t do that, you have already failed in your communication skills. If they feel that you are belittling their feelings, they might resent you and feel as if you are ignoring them.

In a relationship, talking about feelings is not just an occupational hazard. It is also a privilege. Knowing how the person you love feels can solidify your bond and allow you to learn more about them. [Read: How to express your feelings & get your point across the right way]

3. Their doubts

If you are having communication problems, that could be the least of your concerns. Your partner may want to voice out their other concerns about your relationship, but your indifference might make them feel as if you are not concerned about it.

Nobody will want to open up if they know they’ll expect distance and invalidation from their partner. So if you want to learn how to be a better listener in your relationship, watch how you openly and willingly listen to them. Even if it doesn’t directly affect you, you’ll be surprised how listening can significantly impact validating your partner’s feelings.

4. Their complaints

It might feel like nagging, but a partner complains about you because you are doing something wrong in their eyes. If you listen carefully, you can find out if they are right and change your ways. If they are wrong, the least you can do is defend yourself and fix the problem together.

But you can never find a middle ground and mutual understanding if you don’t listen to them initially. Also, don’t instantly assume that they’re nagging. For all you know, this is their way of opening up about everything they’ve been holding inside for a long time now. [Read: 13 small changes that greatly improve your relationship]

5. Their appreciation

The most painful way you can ignore your partner is when you do not listen when they are expressing their love for you. They might be complimenting you or telling you how much they love you when you are not listening. When they realize that their efforts are being ignored, it could spell trouble for you and your relationship.

Eventually, they’ll stop caring entirely all because you failed to listen to them and validate their feelings. If you make them feel like they don’t matter, eventually they’ll just stop trying altogether.

And this is how a relationship falls and breaks apart. It’s precisely why it’s so important to learn how to be a better listener in a relationship. [Read: How to take a compliment without being awkward]

How can you become a better listener?

Now that you know what to look for, you can start to hone your skills in order to become a better listener. Remember that it is not just about remembering what your partner says. You need to internalize it and respond appropriately when necessary.

1. Hear them

Before you can listen, you have to be aware that your partner is talking to you. If you are busy and hear them talking to you, stop what you are doing and talk to them. If you can’t do that, tell them that you will be with them shortly. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when learning how to be a better listener in a relationship.

If they don’t feel acknowledged, you’re already invalidating their feelings and not listening to them. Miscommunication happens when a person is too wrapped up in what they are doing and then fails to realize that their partner is talking to them.

It only takes a few seconds of your day to tell your partner that you’ll be with them in a second, instead of just assuming they know. They can’t read your mind, you know?

2. Apologize

If you did not hear your partner the first time, apologize and try to correct the situation. Try not to let it happen again because an apology will not work on the same situation a second time around. Also, if your partner is trying to tell you about an error in your actions, assuming that it really is you in the wrong, apologize.

Don’t just listen to them ranting about your mistakes. Say sorry and show them you’ll do better. You can be a better listener simply by apologizing whenever you see fit, especially when they don’t feel acknowledged enough or when you did something wrong.

This is the one thing people are bad at doing but is so crucial in effective communication. [Read: 17 sweet ways to say you’re sorry]

3. Make a note of what your partner is saying

If your partner complains that you keep forgetting stuff, write it down. Put it in a visible place or set an alarm on your phone or computer. If your reason is forgetting what they’re saying and not because you didn’t listen enough, it always helps to write everything down.

This way, you won’t have an excuse to forget everything they just told you. You’re being accountable for your listening skills with this piece of advice.

4. Understand what they are saying

It is not just about knowing what language you and your partner speak. You need to think hard about what they are saying. You have to understand how it affects you. You also need to know how you can help them if they are talking about a problem. [Read: How to understand women: 12 truths behind how they think & behave]

Don’t just hear the words coming out of their mouth, but also process what they’re trying to tell you. Being a good listener is all about reading these cues, even with the words not said aloud. So talk their language and try to see what they’re really trying to say.

5. Do not give unsolicited advice

Always wait for them to ask for your help. When they do not ask for it, do not just leave it at that. Ask them if they need your help. Some people really just need an ear to listen, and this is especially true for your partner.

Before giving unsolicited advice, it’s best to know if they’re looking for someone to listen to or someone to provide them with advice. If it’s the latter, that’s your only confirmation to give them advice.

If you really want to learn how to be a better listener in a relationship, don’t just freely give advice they never asked for in the first place. Learn when to speak advice, and learn when just to listen. [Read: 8 experienced words of advice for everlasting love]

6. Do not interrupt them

Interrupting someone when they talk makes it harder for you to remember what that person is saying. It is also rude. Your partner may resent you for it. If you have something to say about the matter, wait until they pause or stop talking. This can be a hurtful act, most especially to your partner.

How would you feel if they interrupted you every time you said something important for you? We’re pretty sure it’s not a good feeling. So if you want to be a good listener in your relationship, stop interrupting them. Let them finish their sentences and only speak once they’re done.

It might sound like a simple thing, but it would mean the world for your partner. Especially as many of us don’t realize how much we interrupt sentences with the people we’re speaking to.

7. Acknowledge what they are saying

Do not just stare blankly at your partner while they are talking. Always acknowledge them with enthusiastic nods or by saying words like “Yes,” “Uh-huh,” “I see,” or anything appropriate for the conversation. It might seem like such a small detail, but they will appreciate you for showing that you are indeed listening to them.

How else will they know you’re actually paying attention or that you’re interested in the conversation? These simple body language cues mean the world to your partner and encourage them to keep going. Especially if you haven’t been the best listener before, this will do your relationship a lot of good!

8. Do your best to give them what they need

If your partner asks you for something that you can provide, try and remember to do it. If it is something that you can’t do for them, tell them your reasons and help them understand your decision. But if what they’re asking is the bare minimum, you should at least give it to them.

Maybe all they’re asking is a bit more quality time with you or that you open up more. In this case, you really should try to be better, especially as it probably took a lot of courage on their end to open up about the things bothering them. [Read: 12 signs you’re being selfish in your relationship]

9. Finish your conversations

Do not leave a conversation when it is not yet finished. This can lead to a misunderstanding. Always ask your partner if they need anything else. Make sure that whatever it is you are talking about is resolved before the conversation ends. Don’t just assume that the conversation is over and walk away.

They might have more to say, but they won’t even bother because you’re practically out the door. If they end the conversation on their own, do not worry about it. Just don’t forget the things that have already been said.

But if you really are serious about learning how to be a better listener in a relationship, don’t finish a conversation for them. Wait for them to signal that it’s over. [Read: Drawing a blank? Try these 25 good conversation starters!]

10. Keep your temper in check

No matter what your partner says, always think first before you react. If they are aggressive and can’t handle their temper, do not ride the same waves. Be calm and keep a level head to solve whatever problem it is that you are dealing with.

It’s a general rule of thumb that if your partner is angry or aggressive, don’t try to match their temper. It’s already bad enough, so you shouldn’t make their temper worse than it already is. Be calm and collected, as that’s always the best approach when confrontation is present. [Read: 10 big relationship problems and how to fix them]

11. Avoid distractions

The number one rule in being a better listener is avoiding distractions. Your partner will feel hurt and neglected if you keep using your phone throughout conversations. This means you clearly have something better to do than talk to them, and you’re also dismissing their feelings.

It’s so important to put away your phone and pour all your focus and attention on your partner when you’re listening. This is how you can be both an effective listener and communicator simultaneously.

12. Make eye contact

Eye contact is the most intimate thing, especially in a relationship. So you can’t learn how to be a better listener in a relationship if you don’t look at them while they’re talking. Look, eye contact isn’t just intimate, but it also makes your partner feel acknowledged and heard.

Especially when they’re talking about how they feel, looking at them gives them the reassurance you actually care. So instead of looking elsewhere, look at their eyes every now and then. [Read: 13 subtle eye contact flirting tips to catch someone’s eye from afar]

13. Match their energy

In order to learn how to be a better listener in a relationship, you need to match their energy. Just like you want people to meet your energy in any conversation, the same goes for your partner. So if your partner is showing enthusiasm when telling you about their day, match that same enthusiasm the best way you can.

Don’t be dry and bland in your response, as that will show you don’t care about what they’re telling you and that they’re boring you. This is the opposite of what your partner wants to feel, so show them you care!

14. Process their words

Especially when your partner opens up about the things you did that hurt them, an apology won’t suffice. You need to process everything they’re saying, including the words they aren’t saying, So after processing their words and realizing what they’re trying to tell you, change your behavior and become better.

Communication is a two-way street, so if you know you have a fault, say sorry but don’t stop there. Change ways and do everything to improve – for yourself and your relationship.

[Read: How to change for your partner without compromising or losing YOU]

So, how to be a better listener in a relationship?

You’re already a step closer by wanting to be a better listener. Now, all it takes is effort and initiative to do the work.

The most important thing to remember is always to validate your partner’s feelings, even when you don’t understand them or when their problems don’t concern you. Just be there for them and acknowledge what they feel.

Learning how to be a better listener in a relationship isn’t that difficult. With the tips above, you’ll be a better communicator and listener in no time!

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Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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