Recently, when out to dinner with another couple, my husband is surprised at what someone says about one of our neighbors. He even comments this to the person about his amazement. Less than one week later, my husband comments to me he wonders about this very situation. After asking him, “Well don’t you remember Sean told you that?” “No. I must have been in a conversation with someone else then. ” I just torque my jaws and change the subject because I just don’t want to have this conversation about listening again.
Whether it’s with you or friends, it’s annoying and rude when your husband communicates he’s not listening. “I don’t really care, ” is the message. Listening is different as hearing. We’re born with the ears to hear. But listening takes energy, time and practice. There are actions to demonstrate your ability to listen, show you care and reduce stress in the process.
First, give your full attention to your spouse. When my husband was speaking with Sean, he was also carrying on a conversation with someone else. There humanly is no way that you can give your full attention when you are dividing it between two people!
Ask clarifying questions before you do your talking. If you want to understand your wife’s concerns, respond to a problem or add to the conversation, ask a question (‘So what you are saying is . . . . ’) Then keep quiet while you listen to their reply. Then you are sure to be on track. Listen first to understand, then to respond.
And anticipate keywords. With experience you learn how some comments are familiar. How you have discussed this previously? When you hear keywords about these everyday situations or previous discussions, use them to help you add to the conversation when the time comes. This is sometimes called leveraging your knowledge.
Listen for feelings first and specifics second. Check your understanding of your wife’s emotions from her point of view (“It must be frustrating to not get what you think you were getting. ”) If that perception check is correct (“Yes I am just fit to be tied, ”) continue with specific facts of the conversation. This type of verbal feedback, particularly on the telephone, can clarify a concern without you saying something there is no need to say.
Identify what bad listening habits you have and begin to minimize and improve them. The top five worst listening habits most of us have are: reacting emotionally, listening only for the facts, getting distracted, faking attention and being critical of the speaker's delivery. Found yours? Know it and do something to improve it. Let’s say you find yourself getting distracted by listening in a second conversation when you are out with your wife and a group of friends. You can wear a rubber band around your wrist for 30 days. And every time that undesirable habit pops into your conversation with you wife, or anyone for that matter, snap that rubber band back. Day after day you’ll be snapping less because you will be replacing your bad habit with something that is effective.
A famous philosopher once said, “We only hear half of what is said to us, understand only half of that, and remember only half of that. " You can reduce misunderstandings and show your spouse you do care when you move beyond hearing to listening.
Copyright© Patricia Weber, http://www.prostrategies.com.
Pat Weber is a coach, certified telelcass leader, and corporate trainer. With her incisive, effective communication skills, her services can help you to accelerate professional and personal results you want, by helping you increase your choices and build your self-confidence. With personal coaching, a teleclass, an online email course or on-site workshop, get what you want, more easily and more often. Visit her website at http://www.prostrategies.com.