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  • 3 Essential Listening Skills to Improve Your Relationship

    One
    of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship is communication. When
    both partners understand how to communicate properly, they feel loved,
    connected and secure. But when effective communication is lacking, both people
    can become defensive, and the relationship can be mired down in distrust, misunderstanding
    and resentments.

    When
    couples are hitting rock bottom, it’s important they relearn critical
    communication skills, primarily how to listen to their partner.

    If
    you find you and your partner are struggling in understanding each other, below
    are three essential listening skills that can help improve your communication.

    1.
    Validate Your Partner’s Feelings

    To
    validate your partner means to understand what they are saying and feeling from
    their point of view
    . This does not mean you have to agree with them. It
    simply means you can see their point.

    When
    responding to something they said, you can validate them by saying something
    like, “That makes sense because…” or “I can see how you might think or feel…”

    You
    may not always understand your partner’s point of view. In these instances,
    it’s helpful to ask for more information in a way that is positive and
    inviting, not negative or defensive. This could sound like “Can you tell me
    more about…” instead of “I don’t understand what you mean.”

    2.
    Mirror Their Own Words

    This
    exercise will require you to reflect or “mirror” everything your partner is
    saying in their own words. Yes, it can feel a bit awkward at first, but it is
    an incredibly effective technique.

    When
    you repeat what your partner has said, you may start your response with
    something like, “I hear you saying…” or “It sounds like what you’re saying is…”

    By
    starting off with this type of language, it allows you to slow down, process
    what your partner is saying, and can make the entire exercise feel more
    comfortable.

    The
    longer you practice this skill, the more you will actually hear what your partner says and understand how they feel.

    3.
    Empathize With Your Partner

    The
    final step to hearing your partner is recognizing the emotions they are
    experiencing in the moment. This will require you go deeper than thoughts and
    head into the vulnerable territory of feelings. You will want to use phrases
    like, “It sounds like you were feeling really upset when….” Or “I can imagine you
    felt hurt…”

    Empathizing
    is extremely important because it shows your partner that how they feel matters
    to you.

    Though
    it will take some time to get the hang of these new listening skills, the
    effort is worth it. And remember, when your partner practices these same
    skills, you will feel equally loved and respected!

    Some
    couples may find they need a bit of help from a neutral third party. Couples
    therapy can provide a safe space for each partner to practice these listening skills.
    A trained therapist will be able to guide you and offer advice and adjustments.

    If
    you and your partner are interested in exploring treatment, please contact me
    today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

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