10 Useful Tips On How To Be A Good Listener In A Relationship
Communication is the bedrock to a strong and healthy relationship. You might be good at talking, but how good are you at listening?
Some of us say we’re listening to our partner even though we’re not listening. Not really. They’re speaking and we’re nodding our head, but we’re just waiting for our turn to talk. We’re planning what we’re going to say and we can’t wait to jump in.
Your partner hates this. Perhaps they’ve told you a few times that you don’t listen to them enough. Maybe that’s why you’re reading this. See, there is a crucial difference between passive listening and active listening.
Active listening means you are giving your partner your undivided attention. You’ve put your phone away, and you’re not thinking of a rebuttal in your head while they’re talking. You’re actually taking in and understanding what they’re saying, and you have a few questions about it all brewing in your mind.
Listening to each other strengthens relationships. It can help you to avoid potentially harmful misunderstandings with your partner, and can even prevent breakups (yes, being a poor listener can really put the strain on a relationship until things get to breaking point).
When you listen to your partner, you show that you care and respect them. Here are 10 useful tips on how to be a good listener in a relationship.
Pay Attention To The Small Things
You might think that the small things don’t matter too much – but they do. If you fail to pay attention to seemingly minor favours or requests from your partner, you’re hurting them more than you realise.
To you, a small favour might sound like nothing. As such, it’s perfectly fine if you ignore it. You were busy. They’ll see to it themselves. But to your partner it could have been a very big deal. They were having a long, stressful day and would have really appreciated it if you ordered you both a takeaway.
However, you forgot all about it because you knew they’d just take care of it themselves. And how hard is it for them to ring for a takeaway?
Not cool. Remember that it’s the small things, the seemingly small gestures that brighten our day. Your partner is counting on you.
Make Eye Contact
This is a trick you learned in school. But how often do you use it?
Establish eye contact with your partner and keep it. The minute your eyes wander is the minute your mind wanders. And they know it.
Deal With Their Feelings
Can’t cope when your partner opens up about themselves to you? Just want to look away and hope they stop crying soon?
Sorry, but you’re a grown-up now and you’re going to have to take responsibility.
Your partner should be able to open up to you about anything they like. If you can’t deal with that, and have to belittle them as a sort of defence mechanism, you’re going to have to change your way.
If you ignore their feelings, they’re going to get pretty resentful. They’re also going to stop believing in this relationship.
Try being vulnerable yourself. Perhaps that’s what you need to do in order to be able to handle your partner’s vulnerabilities.
Put Your Phone Away
This one is obvious and easy. To be a better listener, put your phone away! Not only does it mean you’re giving your partner your full attention, it also gives them more confidence.
Don’t Ignore Their Doubts
Has your partner ever doubted out-loud your relationship? If they have, perhaps your reaction has been to quickly dismiss it, rather than talk to them about these doubts.
Doing so might make them feel good temporarily – after all, you’re surely showing that you DO believe in this relationship. But in reality, you’re just brushing these doubts under the carpet. They will come creeping out again.
Your indifference about the failings of your relationship can be really concerning to your partner. If they’ve had the courage to voice their doubts, they clearly think something is wrong. Next time, don’t be so quick to dismiss their concerns. Talk to them about them.
Don’t Jump In
Just let them talk. Let them have your say.
As well as refraining from jumping in, you should also try not to look like you want to jump in. Relax. Don’t get fidgety. Don’t open your mouth. Just wait your turn.
Don’t Ignore Their Nagging
I know, I know. You hate it when your partner nags you. Who doesn’t? But when your partner is nagging you, they’re often doing it for a good reason – they’re trying to get you to change.
If you sullenly bark at them and scream “OMG STOP NAGGING I’M DOING IT!!” you’re actually missing out on a real chance to change.
Stop and listen to what they’re saying for a second. Maybe if you actually talked to them instead of closed your eyes you’d be able to fix whatever problems needed fixing so that your relationship becomes more harmonious.
Actually Care About What They’re Saying
When you can show your partner that you care about what they’re saying, you’re showing that you care about them. You respect and value them.
Don’t Be Stubborn
You were finally going to do something (even though you really didn’t want to), but then your partner storms into the room and demands that you do it.
Now you really don’t want to do it!
This happens. We don’t like being told what to do. Especially if we were going to do it anyway out of our own volition!
Stop being stubborn. If your partner has asked you to do something or change in some way, be open to it. Stubbornness is a very bad trait that is never good for a relationship.
Don’t Change The Subject
Finally, when they’ve finished talking – don’t then change the subject! It shows that you had NO interest whatsoever in what they’ve just said.