Active listening is an important skill for relationship building. It is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, the complete message being communicated.
To enhance your listening skills, you need to let the other person know that you are listening to what they are saying – by mirroring, paraphrasing, clarifying and giving feedback.
Use active listening in emotional conversations, or when what you are discussing is difficult to understand. Not every conversation needs active listening.
Active Listening is a form of listening and reflecting back what you’ve heard that can deepen the bond, the trust, the understanding and the mutual respect in relationships.
Reflecting back what you’ve heard uncovers misunderstandings earlier. The listener reflects back by paraphrasing in their own words what they think they’ve understood and then gives the other person a chance to clarify or further explain; “Ok so what I think I understand is that what happened was …., then this happened ….., and now you’re feeling …. and what you now need is …. Does that sound right?”
Active listening slows down the communication. This helps people to feel more safe and secure; it lowers their stress levels. People can only really share when they feel safe and secure. The slower and more deliberate dialog is especially important in emotional conversations where people may need more time to process their thoughts and feelings, and want to make sure they are understood.
“There’s a lot of difference
between listening and hearing.”
― G. K. Chesterton
Whenever your spouse says something important to you, you should state in your own words what you understood from their words. You may uncover much more than what your spouse’s first words – deeper aspects to the issue.
Some possible lead-ins (tone matters!)
After you fully understand what the other has said, you can ‘feed back’ your own reactions.
You calmly relate – without judgment – your own thoughts, feelings, opinions, desires, etc. You share your inner experience of your spouse’s account.
Benefits of Feedback
Good feedback is: