The bulk of couples I see in my private practice counseling work often have a myriad issues, but if you were to really break it down it usually comes down to their ability to resolve conflict and communication. And really communication – healthy communication – is a key part in conflict resolution. We often confuse communication with simply talking. Most of us got the talking part down fine. Listening? Now, that’s a different story.
We are aware that words are coming out of their mouth, but are we paying attention? Not to just what they are saying, but how they are feeling, too? Sometimes it’s assuming we know what they are going to say … sometimes we are thinking about what we are going to say and sometimes we don’t care. The problem is, healthy communication involves more than just talking. Listening is probably more important, because we don’t learn much when we talk. We do learn when we listen to someone else – really listen to someone else. Meaning, we understand what they are saying. Maybe we even take a moment to process what they said, before we even speak.
In fact, if you want to become a better listener try this relatively simple practice. After your loved one shares something with you during next argument (or important discussion), repeat back or summarize what they just said before you speak. Example: “What I hear you saying is, “You don’t think it is a good idea for us to spend money on a new car, but on a vacation, right?” You are showing your partner that you actually heard what they said and/or give them an opportunity to correct or clarify what the said. Two, when you do this, it helps them “feel heard,” which is one of the best and nicest things you can do. Third, it will help you craft your response back to them based more on the issue you are discussing, rather leaning on any emotional feelings attached to your disagreement.
**Eric has his Masters in Counseling. When he is not on B105.7, he works as a private practice counselor.**
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