Do you feel frustrated and misunderstood?
Do you have problems resolving conflicts with your partner?
Do your discussions escalate into heated arguments or unproductive shouting matches?
Does it feel like you re-hash the same issues over and over, never reaching any kind of understanding or resolution?
Do you need to improve communication and conflict resolution in your relationship?
The solution lies in three little words… “I hear you”. That’s the magic phrase to end many of your relationship frustrations. Three little words that are easy to say, but more difficult to put into practice. These three words best describe a process called “Active Listening”; your solution to effective and efficient conflict resolution. It’s a powerful process that can improve communication and conflict resolution in your relationship.
Over the next several blogs, I will explain the core concepts of “Active Listening” that I have been helping couples learn and use successfully for the past 20+ years.
The process involves two distinct roles, a “Speaker” and a “Listener”. Let’s start with the role of “Listener”.
First, in the role of Listener, you need to SET THE STAGE, physically, mentally and emotionally:
- Put aside all distractions to create the best environment for communication (no phones, tablets, t.v. etc.)
- Maintain direct eye contact with the speaker.
- Be fully present in the moment; listen without formulating your own response. Too often when we think we are listening, we are really just scripting out our own “come-back” and not focusing on trying to understand our partner.
- Shift focus from a “win-lose” (I win when I prove that I am right and you are wrong) to a “win-win” (I win AND you win when we both feel heard, understood and validated and can reach a compromise or resolution).
- Choose a “talking piece” to help signify the speaker (only the speaker, who has the talking piece, can talk).
Next as the listener, your primary job is MIRRORING, or reflecting back the content of the message:
- Flat mirroring is giving a word for word description.
- Paraphrasing is stating in your own words what you heard the speaker say.
While this sounds easy, effective listening and mirroring takes patience, self-control and practice. Like any new skill, with lots of practice you will become better at listening for understanding and mirroring back to your partner what you heard her/him/them say.
And Finally, as the listener you will need to learn two more crucial steps to complete your role as an effective listener.
Watch for my next blog where I will reveal and explain these two additional skills!
P.S. If your relationship can’t wait for the next blog, call and make your counseling appointment today for your own crash course in Active Listening!