I’ve been in school (like many of us) for a huge chunk of my life. Throughout that time, I feel like I have always been listening to just enough of someone’s points or argument to be able to respond or counter them. It’s a practice that I’ve noticed a lot of us fall into. We’re not truly listening to what people are saying -just little clips and preparing what we’re going to say in return.
I feel like this has only gotten worse for me since becoming a mom. There’s always something to do or plan, my mind is constantly going 1000 miles per hour. I’ve been leaning on these shortcuts that I honed in school and overtime to listen to just enough of what someone is saying, respond, and keep it moving. Although it’s useful in some respects – for the things that over time don’t really matter – it can cause issues down the line and generally leave you feeling disconnected. I am naturally a problem solver. I LOVE to solve issues for people, connect them with resources, figure it all out. But, if there’s too much going on, stuff starts to fall through the cracks, problems don’t get solved, the get more complicated, and relationships begin to suffer.
I’ve always been told – and I truly believe – that communication is the most important aspect of a relationship. Most of the disagreements in all relationships are rooted in misunderstandings. Active listening can be a huge help!
Here are some of the tricks that I have adopted to improve communication in my relationships:
1. Put down the phone
We all love to think that we can multi-task (I know I sure do!) but I promise you are not hearing the whole story if you are tuned into something else (like your phone, the tv, your computer, etc). Put. The. Phone. Down.
2. Position yourself
Usually, I like to plant my feet on the ground and look the other person in the eye, but whatever works best for you and for the situation! Eye contact can let the other person know that you are focused and attentive but sometimes in difficult conversations, it can be harder to do. Putting my feet on the ground helps me feel – you guessed it – grounded and present. My fiancé and I sometimes lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, holding hands when we’re having hard conversations (v. cute I know haha!). Find out the things that help you focus on the conversation and try them out!
3. Repeat back, check for understanding
Listen to what the other person is saying and then either ask clarifying questions or paraphrase their words back to them to make sure you understood correctly. You may feel silly at first but when you start doing it, you’ll realize that many times what you thought the person meant and what they actually meant were two different things. I use this trick ALL the time both in my personal relationships and at work. Very, very helpful.
Those are my 3 tips! Let me know what you think. What would you add to the list? Do you use any of these already?
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