Are there days when you feel like you are talking to a brick wall, where the only thing you get back is an echo? Do you have a challenge understanding why your kids do what they do, or why it seems like your significant other isn’t listening to you? Today, let’s give this some thought, and see if the suggestion will work.
If you’d like to see your relationships change for the better, there is something you can do that is almost guaranteed to help. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a teenager who doesn’t talk to you anymore, a spouse who just won’t listen, a co-worker who never asks you to lunch, or someone at the complete opposite end of the political spectrum from you.
This technique will improve any relationship, and it’s not hard to do, once you get the hang of it. It is listening – but not ordinary listening. We’re talking about listening while you are really trying to understand where the other person is coming from. It is a bit of an art, but one that we all have the talent for.
This means that we want to refrain from judging what others have to say, reacting to it, or figuring out what you’re going to say when it’s your turn. You’re not hearing just the parts that interest you, and you’re not just listening with your ears and mind – you are listening with your heart. You’re trying to see the world as they see it, to understand what it is they are feeling and to put yourself in their shoes.
It is a powerful experience to be heard in this way. It creates a bond between people – a bond of genuine human connection. Try it for a day or two. Ask the people in your life to talk to you, but don’t jump in and try to fix their problems, don’t give advice, and don’t make judgments. Just ask questions and pay 100 percent attention until you think you really understand. Then check it out to see if you do. It’s a good bet that you will be surprised at just how much this kind of emotional listening can do for your relationships.