Don’t you just hate it when your partner doesn’t listen to you? They jump to weird conclusions, ignore your suggestions, and in general, just don’t give you or your ideas the attention you deserve?!
This is a huge issue that, as a therapist, I help couples with all the time because while our partners might think they are good listeners, the truth is they probably aren’t!
While it may not be easy to change how they listen, you can definitely speak in ways that will help them listen and actually hear what you’ve said. Doesn’t that sound nice?
The truth is communication is a two-way street. You can resolve almost every issue you’ll encounter with good conversations. If your partner isn’t hearing you, then it’s time to spruce up your communication skills!
Here’s 5 easy tools to get you started:
1. First ask yourself: Do you have your partner’s attention?
More often than not, when we start talking to someone, we don’t actually have their attention! We just think we do.
So what does this mean? The person we’re talking to may already be distracted and doing or thinking about something else. Think about what happens when you are trying to talk to someone while they’re sending an “important” text. Their minds are otherwise preoccupied and they are not likely to hear what you are saying.
Here’s your solution: ask for their attention! If they can give it to you now, great! And if they can’t, then make a plan for a time when you can both talk, undistracted. This will help make sure that both you and your partner are present and ready for a conversation.
I know it sounds simple, but trust me. This fix is a big deal that can vastly improve your communication.
2. Consider that maybe what you said is not what your partner actually heard.
So remember how Tip #1 was making sure they were actually listening? So here’s the next step: make sure they understand you. Maybe they listened but didn’t actually hear you. I know it may seem silly, but again, most of us don’t actually hear what is being said. Instead, we focus on what we think we heard, which may be a far cry from the truth!
Here are two steps to help to make sure you and your partner are on the same page:
A) After you’re done talking, ASK THEM to repeat back to you what they heard you say. Make sure they hit all the major points. This way, you can make sure you’re both on the same page before they start responding.
B) If your partner doesn’t accurately repeat back what you said, explain yourself better. You may love each other, but that doesn’t mean you think alike. It is often the differences in the way we process information that makes communication difficult. So, if you find that there is something your partner doesn’t understand, take the time to explain what you mean.
3. Don’t write off your partner’s feelings and thoughts (even if they are wrong)!
The factual rightness or wrongness of someone’s feelings about something is irrelevant. Regardless of whether or not they are “correct,” that person is still feeling their emotions. Emotions are valid, even if they aren’t always accurate. It is important to remember that people tend to fixate on what is right or wrong. In reality, our feelings don’t work that way.
If you want to create connection, don’t write off or invalidate your partner’s feelings. Their feelings are an expression of who they are. Instead, look for ways to understand the how’s and why’s of what they are feeling. That way, you will be able to understand them better in the future. Simply asking your partner “Why?” can make a huge difference.
4. Does “not being heard” escalate into fights?
The short answer is yes. When you aren’t feeling heard, conversations can quickly escalate into fights as manners go out the window. Usually, you end up getting louder, trying to shout each other down to get your point across.
However, two people shouting at each other rarely changes anything. When you go into attack mode you just end up turning your partner into your adversary. This is why people tend to say and do things in the heat of the moment that they regret later.
If you find your conversation escalating into an argument, remember that the goal should be winning together as a couple, not winning the fight individually. So if you or your partner is getting louder and meaner, take a break! Let off some steam. When you come back to the conversation, set some ground rules (see Tip #5) and refocus on what you want to create with this person in the future, not just how you want to be right in the present moment.
5. Create a space where you can both share with each other.
Ultimately the best relationships are ones where everyone feels safe to share how they truly feel. So what does that look like? A safe space is an environment of trust and acceptance where you can be vulnerable and there’s no judgment for not knowing things. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have thoughts and opinions about what your partner did or said, and vice versa. However, it does mean that you are focused on creating a compassionate and safe space for them to express their thoughts and feelings. After all, you’ll want them to do the same for you when it’s your turn.
Think in your own life about what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone who cares and loves you even when you’re not at your best. It feels comforting, honest, and safe. A great way to create this space is to set up ground rules for good communication, such as:
- Which styles of communication work for us? Which don’t?
- Take turns when speaking. No interrupting!
- Ask your partner, “Are you finished?” before taking your turn.
- Repeat back what you heard before moving on.
- Ask your partner if they felt like you understood them.
- Add any other rules you think are necessary and important for your relationship.
A Few Last Words
If you liked these tips and want more, then definitely check out my online Relationship Seminar, The Three Ingredients for a Great Relationship!
It’s packed full of tools, discussion topics, and easy-to-use advice that will help you create breakthroughs in your relationship right now. Each lesson is broken down into short videos that are easily digestible and fun to watch. It’s simple to log in, take 5-10 minutes, and walk away with something you can use in your relationship right away. And, you can take the Seminar either by yourself or with your partner! Sign up today and get started!
Remember, relationships are like anything else: they take investment, work, and fine-tuning. And I’m here to help! I know you can do it, and your relationship will thank you!
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