We define hearing as actually listening.
Most of us would consider ourselves pretty good listeners. Unfortunately what we most often do is quite the opposite of being good listeners. Rather than actually listen for content, we most often listen to comment. Our partners speak, but we do not hear their message, we only hear the opportunity to respond. Our relationships suffer greatly from this habit because no one really feels heard!
How listening impacts others
If we are listening only for the intent of being able to offer our opinion or suggestion, our communication breaks down. We respond from judgment. We respond from fear. We respond from exactly the wrong place to support our loved ones. After we respond the other person is left asking themselves “But did you hear me?” Our relationships suffer because we did not listen to hear, we listened to speak! How can love grow if there is no communication? I am not simply referring to romantic love, but what about love in our families? What about love in our community? What about love in our nation? All these things are related because they being with one them; listening.
Healing the divide
The first step in healing this divide is to set our ego-selves aside. The other person is expressing their feelings, their opinions. When we jump in with our own feelings, our own opinions, we disempower the other person. What we are in effect saying is “My thoughts are more important than yours.” Obviously this is our ego-selves inserting itself into our relationships. What we want to be doing in IN-powering each other. Our ego-self can still be bolstered we engage the other person by asking “What did that mean to you?” or perhaps “Did I hear you correctly?” At first this may seem artificial to you. All new skills take a while to get used to. Soon, however, you will discover people will actually want to speak with you. You will become a trusted friend, a valued sounding-board.
Becoming a better speaker
Be concise and accurate with what you say. Unless you are a professional writer, you don’t get paid by the word. Value the willingness of others to listen to you. Nothing turns a listener off quicker than hearing someone speaking for the sake of speaking. If we begin to listen better and speak with purpose, we will never again have to ask “But did you hear me?”
Read Bear and Butterfly, THE Relationship handbook for more communication tips.