When you are in a relationship, any kind of relationship, listening is so important. We all know communication is key, and listening is half of communication. If we don't listen, we cannot effectively communicate with the other person.
Listening doesn't just mean hearing words. It's also about determining tone of voice, reading body language, and picking up on facial expressions. All of these factors go into listening. Whew! That's a lot of work to do. But it's very important to pay close attention when listening.
Have you ever asked someone how they're doing, and they say they're fine, but you know they're not? That's what I'm talking about. You pick up something in their tone of voice, body language, and/or facial expression that lets you know they are not fine. Even when they say they are. And… the better you know someone, the easier it is to pick up on these clues.
When you truly listen to someone, with all your senses, the other person feels validated. Like what they have to say is important. And it is. True listening leads to better satisfaction of the speaker, fewer mistakes and misunderstandings, sharing of more information which all leads to better communication.
When you listen to your children, get on their level. Focus on them alone. Ask appropriate questions related to what they are saying. Be fully engaged in their story. Not only will this make them feel special, it will make them better listeners.
When listening to your spouse, look at them. Again, be fully engaged in what they have to say. Oh! and stop talking! The quickest way to get your spouse to stop communicating is to cut them off and make them feel unimportant. So, just stop talking. After you ask your question, be quiet. Focus on them. Pay attention to everything; words, body language, tone of voice, facial expressions. The better you listen, the more special and important they feel, the better the communication.
If there's one thing I've learned in my marriage, it's that listening is more important than talking when it comes to communication. If one is not an effective, active listener, you will lose communication. This happened early on in our relationship. I felt like my husband wasn't listening to me at all. He was constantly interrupting me, and I thought what I had to say was not important to him at all. So… I stopped communicating. I would answer his questions with as short an answer as possible. When he would talk, I would only half listen. It got to the point where I didn't care what he had to say. If he wasn't willing to listen to what I had to say, why should I listen to him? It all came to a head one night. Late one night, in fact. We wound up talking it out. I told him what was on my heart. That I felt what I had to say, and therefore I, myself, was not important to him. For the first time, he actually listened to me.
He's still working on not interrupting. Sometimes I have to remind him. But he's doing better. We communicate so much better now because we've been working on listening to each other. We still have a little ways to go, but we're getting there.
Communication is key. But, most importantly, you must listen, fully listen, in order for communication to be effective.