Listening is one of the most important skills we need to effectively communicate, especially in relationships and marriage. It is also one of the hardest skills to learn. Our society values speaking, doing, acting much more than listening, which most consider passive. That is the first mistake.

Real listening is not passive at all. It takes a great deal of attention, energy and focus to “actively” listen to another person. First you have to be quiet, which is not easy for some people. We usually listen with the intent to respond, not to deeply understand what the other is expressing.

The next challenge is to empty the chatter going on in our own minds, so it is quiet enough to make space for another’s thoughts. Listening involves a conscious shift from our internal dialogue to hearing and understanding the other.

To truly, fully, deeply listen means, when the other person speaks, you are taking it in, working to understand their words, tone, cadence, body language and facial gestures.

Putting all of that together produces the intended message. That is the best hope for accurately communicating. Even then, communication is difficult since we perceive words through our own lens.

It scares Bob and I that we are losing our ability to listen today. There is so much busyness, background noise and hurry, not to mention the effect of cell phones and computers. When communication becomes flat and we only read words in an email or text, chances are we will misinterpret what the other person is saying.

Relationships are all about effectively communicating. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to create a deep connection, become close, understand who your partner is, and what they think and feel. This is the foundation for intimacy, which really means “into-me-see.” We all want to be seen and heard in our closest, most valuable relationship with a partner.

In his 7-minute TED Talk, Julian Treasure makes the case for “listening” — what it is, why it is so important, and gives 5 tools to improve your active listening. Check it out now:

5 Ways to Listen Better

If you and your partner are having trouble communicating, call us. Bob and Lori are doing Individual, Couples and Marriage Counseling Online.

Call 410-363-2825 or email us now.

Photo credit DragonImages