I think many of us will agree that the trouble in most relationships boils down to ineffective communication. And communication isn’t just in what you say; it’s also in how you listen and respond to what is said.

Today, I want to focus on active listening. Ask yourself: are you a listener or a wait to talker? You know…those people with whom you’re having a conversation and you feel like nothing you are saying is registering with them because they are just waiting to jump into the gap between your words so they can talk about whatever they want to talk about, most likely themselves? Obviously, that behavior is not considered good listening. 🙂

Active Listening Looks Something Like This:

You are having a conversation with someone, and she’s talking. You are making eye contact and mirroring her by nodding that you understand or smiling if she is smiling or showing concern with your facial expression if she is sharing something upsetting. Mirroring is a way, with your body language and facial expressions, to encourage the speaker to continue. It indicates that you are with her, interested and empathizing with what she is telling you. It also means asking a follow up question rather than immediately offering an opinion or trying to change the subject. Something along the lines of, “Then what happened?” or “How was that for you?” will encourage deeper sharing. Once she has fully expressed herself and if she is seeking advice, you can offer, “I have a thought about that, would you like to hear it?” as opposed to just giving your opinion. (When you jump in with unasked for advice or criticism, you are actually robbing her of her dignity. By not making assumptions or offering a judgment, you are creating a safe space for the her to fully express herself to you.)

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have someone do this for you too? (So spread this blog around to your friends, family, and co-workers. Hopefully they’ll heed this advice as well.)

What does it feel like when you don’t have to fight to be in a conversation? Where there is space for both people to talk and feel taken in by the other? It feels calming, nurturing, and pretty fantastic, doesn’t it?

Active listening is the bridge to deeper intimacy and a more authentic connection in all of your relationships.

This week, think about what kind of listener you are and what kind you want to be. Take actions that are in line with your idea of an ideal listener. See how people respond to you as you take this new approach to having conversations. It is as simple as asking a question and then holding expansive and attentive space for the person’s answer. It is a profound way to honor others, and it is 100% free!

I hope you have an amazing week flexing your new listening muscle and, as always, take care of you.

Love Love Love

Terri

 

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  1. Thanks for a great piece of advice. I always think that people are telling me their problems so that I can offer advice. I go straight into problem solving mode. I realize that this is not really what they want. Could you send me a daily reminder?

  2. Loved this lesson. I can be a terrible can’t-wait-to-talker. My problem is that I lose what I wanted to say sometimes when I wait. Gee, could that possibly me it wasn’t that important??? 😉 Thank you for the tips on active listening. I intend to use them. I had never thought about taking someone’s dignity by offering unwanted advice. Dang, you are sure making me ponder today! Thank you, Terri!

  3. Thanks for another great lesson. I realized that I can definitely be a wait to talker. I always thought I was a good listener until I recognized myself in your article,not a pretty picture. Terri, ive been doing a lot of work on myself recently,reading and listening to a lot of great teachers,but I can honestly say that your words and style have the most beneficial to me.I have purchased your cd.and also your teaching on entheos with Ashley Turner.I look forward to any thing new you may be coming out with. Thank you,Pat

  4. This is great! How can you get your partner or family to learn to listen, to hear? My bf says he is listening to me and can repeat my words, but while we are talking about a subject, he will ask irrelevant questions mid conversation. example- we are discussing addiction and why a person makes a choice knowing the consequences. in the middle of the chat- he asks a silly question that is irrelevant, then a few moments later speaks on the topic. I already have gotten mad and shut down. does he not want to talk about the topic or is he only happy when he has the spotlight?

    1. Robin-
      What you describe is category of communication blocking called blocking and diverting. In the moment make a simple request that he not divert the conversation in that way as it makes you feel unimportant and hurt. I do not know your situation or your boyfriend but there are many resources where you can learn how to communicate effectively and learn how to call him out in a productive way if he is blocking the communication. Non Violent Communication is an excellent book and the Verbally Abusive Relationship (which I am NOT saying is yours it is just a great resource) by Patricia Evans is great. Hope that helps. You are not imagining it. It feels really crappy. And non abusive men can use these tactics to a much smaller degree so becoming educated will help you and your man if he’s a keeper <3

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