Remember, the goal of communications within a relationship is to talk with each other. Keeping this in mind, it is now time to look at the other part of communicating – listening. (For assertive communication, click here.)
Truly listening requires effort. To be a good listener it is important to try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. It is important to pay attention to the verbal as well as non-verbal communication.
As a listener we want to convey that we have heard what the other person has said and check to make sure we are hearing the message clearly. Basically, good listening is mirroring back what the other person is saying This is validating and healthy in our relationships.
How would you respond as a good listener in the following example:
I feel ignored when you come home from work and start playing with the kids before even saying hello to me. What I would really like instead is if you came home and said “hi” and gave us a chance to talk about our day.
A good listener might respond with following:
“I really appreciate you bringing this up. I didn’t know that you were feeling ignored by me. I certainly don’t want to give you that message. You are suggesting that I talk with you when I get home so that we can connect.”
The dialog is now started. The important thing is that they are both on the same team and validating one another. So a continuation of this may go something like the following:
Person 1: “Yes, then I would feel that I am as important to you as the kids are.”
Person 2: “You are important to me. I was playing with the kids when I got home so that you could have some time to yourself to do whatever you wanted or needed to do.”
Person 1: “What I want most is to talk to you. I do feel better knowing that you weren’t just trying to avoid me or ignore me.”
Person 2: “The ironic thing is that I felt unimportant to you when you wouldn’t talk to me after I played with the kids. I didn’t know it was because you were feeling ignored. It’s funny that what we both want most is to talk to each other.”
They can then do some problem solving regarding the kids so they aren’t interrupted while talking. Remember that it is not about one person being right or wrong, it is about maintaining a good relationship and being happy.
Need help learning to be more assertive in communication while still respecting your partner? Click here.
Sharon S. Bremer, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker