Relationships are tough, and they can be even more challenging when those involved do not feel heard or understood. Listening is a vital part of communication but it is sometimes overlooked as a skill that needs to be developed and practiced. There are several common roadblocks to being a good listener and avoiding them can lead to more satisfying and efficient communication.
1. Jumping to a solution. Solutions are important, but trying to fix your partner's problems or offer advice before connecting with his or her feelings may hinder a true connection. Often people in relationships offer solutions with the best intentions and fail to realize the timing of their advice may leave their partner feeling misunderstood or unheard.
2. Analyzing actions. One of the best ways to listen well is to hold off on analyzing your partner's words or actions until he or she feels fully understood. Concentrating on why your partner said or did something may distract you from connecting with the content of his or her message.
3. Assigning blame. It is easy to fall into the trap of assigning a “good guy” and a “bad guy” to a given situation. However, making moral judgments or assigning blame while listening may prevent you from seeing the situation from your partner’s point of view, and your partner may not feel like he or she has a safe space to express feelings and opinions.
4. Asking loaded questions. Verbal feedback and questions may seem like the signs of a good listener, but it is important to pay attention to the type of questions you are asking. If you are asking questions with an answer in mind or questions that are designed to lead the speaker to a certain conclusion, you may not be listening as well as you think you are.
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