One of the main reasons couples divorce is because they lost the ability or never had the skills to communicate with one another. Poor listening skills lead to the breakdown in communication in a marriage. Here are some tips on how to be a more effective and life-giving listener.
1. Don't Interrupt
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Let your spouse finish what they are saying. If this is a problem and you interrupt a lot, find someway to remind yourself to keep quiet. Some people put their chin in their hand as a sign to themselves to not speak til their mate is finished talking.
2. Keep an Open MindDon't judge. Jumping to conclusions or looking for the right or wrong in what is being said prevents you from listening. Think before you say anything in response, especially if it is an emotional reaction.
3. Make Listening a PriorityListen without planning on what you are going to say in response. Let go of your own agenda. Be aware that you need to listen. Make eye contact. Pay attention by not looking at the TV or glancing at the newspaper or finishing up a chore.
4. Use Feedback TechniqueLet your partner know that you heard what they said by using a feedback technique and restating what was said. Say something like "I hear you saying ...." Be open to the possibility that you didn't hear clearly what your spouse was saying.
5. Watch Non-VerbalBe aware of non-verbal signs and clues - both yours and those of your mate. These include shrugging your shoulders, tone of voice, crossing arms or legs, nodding, eye contact or looking away, facial expressions (smile, frown, shock, disgust, tears, surprise, rolling eyes, etc.), and mannerisms (fiddling with papers, tapping your fingers). 55% of the message is delievered through non-verbal signs.
6. Blocks to ListeningTry not to fall into these patterns of listening: mind reading, rehearsing, filtering, judging, daydreaming, advising, sparring, being right, changing the subject, stonewalling, and placating.
7. Stay FocusedFocus on the main points that your spouse is talking about. It's ok to ask questions to clarify what you thought you heard.
You may just communicate differently. Being aware can enhance your listening skills. One of you may often share because you want to give information or solve a problem. The other may tend to talk to connect with someone or to get information. Some folks talk more about relationships than others. You may be more concerned about details than your spouse. But don't attribute all your listening differences to your gender.
Learn More: "Men and Women's Differences Aren't Actually Distinct, Confirms Study"
9. Show RespectRespect your spouse's point of view, even if you disagree with what is being said.
10. Advice & TalkingDon't give advice unless asked for it. You can't listen and talk at the same time. Feelings are neither right or wrong.