Top 10 Listening Tips

One of the main reasons couples divorce is because they lost the ability or never had the skills to communicate with one another. Poor listening skills lead to the breakdown in communication in a marriage. Here are some tips on how to be a more effective and life-giving listener.

1. Don't Interrupt
Let your spouse finish what they are saying. If this is a problem and you interrupt a lot, find someway to remind yourself to keep quiet. Some people put their chin in their hand as a sign to themselves to not speak til their mate is finished talking.

2. Keep an Open Mind
Don't judge. Jumping to conclusions or looking for the right or wrong in what is being said prevents you from listening. Think before you say anything in response, especially if it is an emotional reaction.

3. Make Listening a Priority
Listen without planning on what you are going to say in response. Let go of your own agenda. Be aware that you need to listen. Make eye contact. Pay attention by not looking at the TV or glancing at the newspaper or finishing up a chore.

4. Use Feedback Technique
Let your partner know that you heard what they said by using a feedback technique and restating what was said. Say something like "I hear you saying ...." Be open to the possibility that you didn't hear clearly what your spouse was saying.

5. Watch Non-Verbal
Be aware of non-verbal signs and clues - both yours and those of your mate. These include shrugging your shoulders, tone of voice, crossing arms or legs, nodding, eye contact or looking away, facial expressions (smile, frown, shock, disgust, tears, surprise, rolling eyes, etc.), and mannerisms (fiddling with papers, tapping your fingers). 55% of the message is delievered through non-verbal signs.

6. Blocks to Listening
Try not to fall into these patterns of listening: mind reading, rehearsing, filtering, judging, daydreaming, advising, sparring, being right, changing the subject, stonewalling, and placating.

7. Stay Focused
Focus on the main points that your spouse is talking about. It's ok to ask questions to clarify what you thought you heard.

8. Gender Differences
Although not true for everyone, men and women generally communicate differently. Being aware can enhance your listening skills. Men often share because they want to give information or solve a problem. Women tend to talk to connect with someone or to get information. Women usually talk more about relationships than men. Men are often more concerned about details than women.

9. Show Respect
Respect your spouse's point of view, even if you disagree with what is being said.

10. Advice & Talking
Don't give advice unless asked for it. You can't listen and talk at the same time. Feelings are neither right or wrong.

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