Wondering how to listen effectively when your partner is trying to talk to you?
A common relationship issue I often hear is: “How do I listen effectively and not try to fix the problem?”
Active listening is key!
Active listening…this can be easier said than done but it can be done!
What makes active listening hard for partners is that often times, partners are coming from a place of wanting to help. Wanting to be supportive and sometimes that means feeling like we need to dosomething.
But, really, all you need to do is to listen.
So, what is active listening and how can you listen effectively to your partner?
Active listening is the art of fully being present and really listening to what your partner is saying.
What active listening is not…
This does not mean that while you are listening you are waiting for your partner to take a break in their sentence so you can say something…
Or, you are thinking about something else while your partner is talking to you.
What active listening is…
Active listening includes fully listening to the words your partner is saying and also listening to the underlying message and/or meaning their words are trying to communicate.
Active listening also means acknowledging to your partner that you hear them.
Some examples of what this could look like are:
- Repeating back what you heard your partner say.
- Nodding your head to let your partner know you are engaged.
- Asking questions, when needed, but keeping in mind that you’re seeking to understand your partner not trying to fix or solve something for them.
Tips on listening effectively and actively listening:
- Make eye contact with your partner when they’re talking to you.
- Don’t mentally prepare (while they are talking) what you’re going to say once they stop talking.
- Show nonverbal cues that allow your partner to know you are engaged in what they’re saying (such as: smiling, nodding, etc.)
- Reflect back what you hear your partner saying. This could be simply saying, “What I hear you saying is…”
Active listening helps!
If you’re unsure if your partner wants you to listen or if they want you to brainstorm solutions and that leaves you feeling confused and unsure how to be, then you can simply ask your partner what they’re needing.
Let your partner know that you want to be there for them but you’re unsure how and you’d like to know if they’re expecting you to actively listen or to help them solve a problem.
This step of simply asking when you’re unsure could be a significant first step toward communicating in a meaningful way with each other.
It’s allowing the other person to know that you need their guidance on how to care for them and that you want to care for them.