"A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself -- to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart." ~ Leo Buscaglia
One of life's biggest challenges and one of life's greatest joys is the same thing: being in a relationship. If you've been there, you know precisely what I mean. You can control half of what goes into a relationship, but who you are influences 100% of it. Relationship listening is a skill you need to develop if you want to hear what your significant other is really saying.
Frequently we hear about the challenges between the way women think and the way that men think in a relationship. Dr. B. Janet Hibbs who is a couples therapist and psychologist, says that if you are willing to adjust the way you process what you hear in your relationship, you can actually adjust your mental filter and achieve more success. You will improve your listening skills.
Some Examples of Relationship Listening:
WHAT HE SAYS: I'm sorry you're feeling like that.
WHAT YOU HEAR: You're being an idiot!
WHAT HE MEANS: I wish this argument was over.
Women love to hash out all the details, because they can see them all and want to delve into their emotional depths. Men have this keen ability to go to the bottom line. Sometimes the men are right, but sometimes because they don't look at all the details, they may miss the point. The ability to reason is enhanced through these encounters for both. Reason takes in all the details and reaches an accurate conclusion.
WHAT HE SAYS: If you think your salary is too low, ask for a raise.
WHAT YOU HEAR: You're problem is minor. Just fix it.
WHAT HE MEANS: You're sweating over stuff at work? Here, let me help you.
Women often suffer from low self-esteem especially at work, so asking for a raise can be much more of a problem for them. Men, on the other hand, are trained from birth to be providers and this means earning a good wage, which all men understand, so getting a raise is expected. When men offer their perspective to a woman, they just want to help. This is an area they handle more easily than women do.
WHAT HE SAYS: Uh huh! Yeah! Right!
WHAT YOU HEAR: I have very little interest in what you're saying.
WHAT HE MEANS: Could you get to the bottom line please?
Ladies, you've got to cut to the chase. You've got to be able to tell your story to him more succinctly. Use fewer words and get to the punch line quickly or you've lost him. Fellows, be a little more patient with your lady's attempts to be more succinct. If she achieves communication in record time, pat her on the back for it.
WHAT HE SAYS: I didn't tell you about the cutbacks at work?
WHAT YOU HEAR: You don't care enough about me to be honest.
WHAT HE MEANS: I don't want you to worry. I've got a handle on this.
Ladies, men don't want you to see them feeling vulnerable, so if there is an area where they feel weaker, they are not going to speak to you about it. They're there to protect and take care of you. Be respectful and don't ask them "feeling" questions. Ask them "doing" questions. What are your plans if you get laid off works so much better than Oh honey, you must feel terrified of losing your job!
By honing your listening skills to include relationship listening, you can both have a more peaceful and harmonious co-existence.
"The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but hold hands." ~ Anonymous
Take Action Now
1. I will judge from my significant other's perspective.
2. I will listen twice as much as I speak.
3. I will listen with the purpose of divining "meaning."