Good Morning fair readers, Eliza Prince coming to you live from my… bedroom. *Winks* I’ve wrangled the hellions up and they are playing games, so I have a few moments of peace to write you this important blog post.
First, let’s start with a video called “It’s not about the nail,” for some laughs, though the the couple in the short do touch on a sensitive topic.
It’s Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.
There are many ways of listening to your partner. Sometimes I want to smack Jett upside the head and say, “Dude. Shut the fuck up and hear the words that are coming out of my mouth! Don’t interject, don’t give me your advice, and for the love of… don’t tell me how I feel!”
How many of you out there have experienced this level of “OMG, Just listen, already!” I know I have. I know Jett has as well. Ha – I bet you thought this was going to turn into a bash men post, well, guess what? Us ladies have to be good listeners as well. That means not getting so defensive about everything, and when we do want to rail at the fact he left his dirty clothes in a heap on the floor, as well as a trail of mud from his boots across three floors… Take a breath. Remember – His needing to talk about something, isn’t about you. Let me say that again – “It’s not about you.” (Well, unless it is about you, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic, yo.)
Why do we get defensive? Out of fear. We feel threatened by sensitive topics, afraid we will be asked to change, stop doing something our partner detests, or do something uncomfortable. (Kinky sex aside here, gutter tweeps. Experimenting might be another post, but it doesn’t totally relate to where I’m headed right now)
Defensive listening creates distance, people. You can have a closer connection with your partner by listening with an empathic ear. Focus intently on your partner. Keep eye contact. Don’t interrupt, even if you really, really want to.
I’m going to post a list from therapist Marcia Naomi Berger, on “How to Actively Listen to your partner.”
First, make sure that the conversation about a potentially sensitive topic occurs when both of you are calm and when distractions are unlikely. Then follow these six steps:
1. Stop what you are doing. Take the necessary time to really listen to your partner.
2. Look at your partner. Eye contact expresses that you are ready to listen. Body language and facial expression also indicate an interest in listening. Focus on your partner. Try to push everything else from your mind.
3. Listen to your partner. Listen without interrupting, arguing, or giving advice. If you are having a strong emotional reaction to the words, notice it. Breathe in and out slowly a few times to center yourself. You will have a chance to express yourself later, but for now, just listen.
4. Rephrase or repeat what your partner says. This step encourages us to be good listeners. It also helps us understand the other person’s meaning and feelings. Rephrasing also helps the partner recognize and clarify his or her feelings. Start with, “I hear you saying __________________.”
5. Always check with your partner whether your interpretation of what was communicated is accurate. Ask, “Am I understanding what you are saying correctly?” The speaker should clarify his or her meaning if the partner’s interpretation seems inaccurate, after which step 4 should be repeated.
6. Be empathic. Seek to understand your spouse’s emotions in the situation she or he is describing. Try to put yourself in your spouse’s position. Save your advice for another time.
Then, reverse roles if you need to clarify your opinion, or viewpoint, or share your thoughts and feelings, do the same six steps for your partner.
Don’t presume to know what your partner is thinking, feeling, or going through. Just Listen, and try to understand. At the end of the day, that’s all your partner wants. For you to understand them. You don’t always have to agree, in fact, differences breed personal growth in my opinion, so embrace your differences, but listen with an open heart, an empathic ear, and zipped lips.
Eliza from Finding Time.