Happy people make it a point to listen to others. They like to learn new things, take an interest in others and generally feel good when they listen. In the process of listening, they are also showing respect for others\’ thoughts and ideas, and that, in turn, demonstrates their self-confidence. They are secure enough to let all sorts of ideas and opinions enter their lives—even those with which they disagree. They radiate positive energy.

But the real bonus of being a good listener is it strengthens your relationships. It helps you avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. And if you really listen to your partner you will understand him better, come to know how he thinks, and therefore your relationship becomes more intimate.

The trouble is, being a good listener is easier said than done. It\’s easy to get distracted by your own thoughts. When you do, you block out the rest of the world, including your partner and what he\’s saying to you.

Concentrate on Your Partner

The key to good listening is taking the focus off yourself and concentrating on what your partner is saying. You have chosen to be with this person. Isn\’t he worth your full attention? Isn\’t he worth a little time and effort? Ask him how he\’s doing, and then really, really pay attention. Try to understand his world from his point of view, not yours. In the process, be careful not to block what he\’s saying. Here is a list of don\’ts.

Don\’t be thinking of a snappy comeback while he\’s talking. Just try to absorb what he\’s saying. You can\’t really do that if you\’re busy formulating your own response.

Don\’t interrupt while he\’s talking. Remember, this is not about you or what you think. Put your own agenda on a shelf for later and focus on hearing what he thinks.

Don\’t be critical or judge. Let what he\’s told you sink in for a while. After it has, make sure you understood fully what your partner said by reflecting what you heard. Ask questions like, “I hear you saying (whatever you perceive he said). Is that correct?”

Don\’t take responsibility for your partner\’s feelings by trying to make him cheer up or fix things. Take a breath and tune into how your partner is feeling.

Don\’t try to minimize the problem in an attempt to get him to worry less. It only serves to minimize his feelings, which may seem trivial to you, but not to him. Sarcasm or put-downs are especially out of place when your partner is opening up to you.

The foundation of good relationships is partners who listen to each other. It\’s critical to be present with your partner. Quiet your mind to be fully aware and in tune with what your partner is saying to you. Next week I\’ll talk more about how you can be a great listener.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.