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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