Learn to use Active listening skills to improve relationship
Active listening skills can bring a positive change into any relationship. It has the power to turn a deteriorating relationship right side up if practiced properly. Communication is the key to a great relationship. Listening plays a major role in communication. But most of us are busy talking and getting ready to respond, that we hardly spend time listening, let alone active listening.
What is active listening or comprises active listening skills ?
Active listening is the deliberate effort to pay close attention to the speaker. It is not just listening to the words that are
spoken but listening to the emotions and nonverbal cues that the speaker gives out. It is appropriately responding to the words and emotions in a purposeful and positive way. Poor communication is one the biggest problem among couples. Most married couples hardly listen to each other, especially those who have been together for years, each assumes that they know what the other person is going to say. This is the cause of many a misunderstanding and difference of opinion.
How active listening skills can help improve relationships
Active listening skills are a set of activities that make a focused effort to understand and respond appropriately. This means you keep an open mind and do not assume that you know what your partner has to say. You may even guess right, as you know the person well, but it is worth it to listen and let your partner have his/her say. You need to realise that communication is cathartic, and the person needs a release for his/her emotions.
When you actively listen you make eye contact with the person. This tells the person that you are listening to him/her and that you care. This also helps build better rapport and better relationship in the long run.
Focus on the person, his/her tone of voice, expressions and emotions to understand not just the words but the underlying emotions and thoughts. This would help you respond to the person in a deep and reflective manner.
Active listening calls for listening without interruption. You do not stop the flow of words with your response, but wait until the person has said his/her piece. Your response should come in after the person has had a chance to explain himself or herself. This is not only good manners but a mark of great communication.
Take care not to get over stimulated or overly emotional and respond from that mental state. Emotional responses have a high chance of being not wholly balanced or even inaccurate. Responding to reason and logic always helps you strike the right emotional balance and puts you in a better position that you do not have regret your words later on.
Do not frame retorts and answers while listening. Picking up points to criticise or pointing out flaws may not allow you to engage in active listening. It only demonstrates your prejudice and unwillingness to listen.
When you practice active listening you can never be accused of not listening, which is as a matter of fact the biggest grievance that couples have against each other.
Avoid distractions, do not be actively engaged in something else while listening to someone, this tells the person that you respect their opinion and you are interested to listen to what they have to say. Letting your mind wander off or pretending to listen will always get you into trouble.
Summarize or restate the main points at the end of your partners speech and ask him or her, I think is how you feel about this issue .. am I right? This will tell the person that you have been listening and are interested in resolving any conflict or ready to do what is needed to done well. Asking questions that are non threatening or which are just a restatement of the persons speech calms the other person to a considerable extent. This is a great tool for conflict resolution and better communication.
Quickness to appreciate and highlight good points brings a positive aspect into communication and conflict resolution. It deflects anger and brings in a certain amount of calmness into the conversation.
Sharing similar emotional experiences without resorting to blaming and expressing desire to working through issues will bring about a great change in attitudes and interactions. This is a key tool in active listening.
Use body postures to make your interest known. Inclining your body forward while listening tells the other person that you are keenly interested in what is going on. Hand with palm upwards indicate your openness receive information, hands folded on the chest tells the person that you have already come to a conclusion and are just politely waiting your turn to lash back.
When couples learn to communicate effectively and purposefully a major portion of their differences and problems can be sorted out easily. Active listening skills is indeed a great tool for conflict resolution, better communication and a happy marriage.