Communication is a two-way street. Are you intently listening to what your partner has to say, instead of just waiting for your chance to speak? By Danielle Anne Suleik
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 become a better listener by heeding what we have to say.
One of the problems that couples encounter in a relationship is miscommunication. This happens when one or both of you are unable to express yourselves 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.
No matter what the reason is, not listening to your partner can lead to bigger problems. When one person in a relationship fails to live up to their role as a partner, their connection becomes strained and it can lead to a break-up.
Communication is one of the most important parts in a relationship. 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. [Read: Effective communication in your relationship]
Not only that, 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.
It is 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.
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. If they feel that you are ignoring even the smallest of things in a conversation, it could hurt them more than you realize. [Read: 25 things happy couples talk about]
#2 Their feelings. Some people would prefer not to talk openly about their emotions, but your partner may want to. 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.
#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.
#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.
#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. [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 you 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. Miscommunication happens when a person is too wrapped up in what they are doing and then fail to realize that their partner is talking to them.
#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. [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.
#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 know how it affects you. You also need to know how you can help them if they are talking about a problem.
#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.
#6 Do not interrupt them. Interrupting someone when they talk makes it harder for you to remember what it is 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.
#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 that is 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.
#8 Do your best to give them what they need. If your partner is asking 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. [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. If they end the conversation on their own, do not worry about it. Just don’t forget the things that have already been said.
#10 Keep your temper in check. No matter what your partner says, always think first before you react. If they are being aggressive and can’t handle their temper, do not ride the same waves they are. Be calm and keep a level head so you can solve whatever problem it is that you are dealing with.
Listening to your partner is not difficult. You don’t have to be a genius to communicate with your partner. If you can hone your communication skills, your partner will follow suit and any problem you used to have about listening to each other will be a thing of the past.