You're outdoorsy and he's a gamer. Your mom has a new passion for cross-stitching and tennis and that’s all she talks about. Your office mate just hiked another 14er....again.
I've been hearing a lot from clients who are struggling with relating in their relationships. This is part of one of a two part series to help you (re)connect in relationships.
Part of the disconnect can be that you aren't listening, aren't listening well, or aren't listening to the connective material in the other person's story. Here are some tips to start listening better.
- Show up. Like really show up. Be present. Eliminate, or at least minimize, distractions, and focus on listening.
- Stay engaged (non verbals). Listening is not a passive, spectator sport. I'm sure you have had someone passively hear you while they are checking Facebook, people watching, randomly and dispassionately saying "uh-huh", or totally spacing out. And I'm sure you've had someone actually be there, hold space for your words and feelings, and actively engage in the conversation by listening. Do that.
- Listen for understanding. Don't listen just for your opportunity to make a point. Not just to get in a jab or a punch line. Not to one up you or turn the conversation back to yourself. Listen for emotions. Listen for thoughts or reactions that give you a glimpse into the other’s life. Listen so the other person leaves feeling seen and known. Listen to others how you like others to listen to you.
- It makes conversations more connective.
- It can reduce conflict, sometimes people escalate in order to be heard
- When people feel heard, they are likely to listen
- It's kind and validating for the other person
- Why not!?!