Why Doesn’t (S)he Listen?

As soon as communication between a couple breaks down, this is when problems arise; if you are not listening to each other you are not communicating effectively and that is a recipe for disaster. If the not listening to one another continues for any length of time you might as well say goodbye to your relationship. There are a number of reasons why communication breaks down and partners stop listening to each other, it could be the way that the information is communicated, issues that one or both of you has or the time and location that the communication occurs.

Method of Delivery

Are you clear and to the point when you communicate or do you generally include a lot of unnecessary preamble in your communications? If one of you is taking too long to get to the point then you can hardly blame the other for switching off, after all no one likes listening to long winded lectures or monologues if they don’t have to. Try and make your communication clear and concise. Does one of you have a tendency to monopolise conversations leaving little room for the partner to respond? If your partner felt like they had a good chance of having their views heard perhaps they would be more interested in listening to what you have to say.

Be selective in the vocabulary that you use, if you are known for being brash and direct it could be that you can be hurtful without even realising it, if you have a habit of hurting his or her feelings, whether you realise it or not, don’t be surprised if they don’t want to listen to what you have to say. If your partner gets any sense that you are trying to manipulate them into agreeing to something or seeing something your way they will tune out the conversation. If you want something be direct and say what is on your mind, there is no sense trying to ‘soften them up’ beforehand. Be aware that you may be using too many generalities in your conversation, be more specific in what you are trying to convey.

Think Before You Speak

Think about the timing of what you have to say. If you are trying to have an in depth conversation with your partner when they are tired after a long and stressful day, of course they are not going to be in the right frame of mind to listen to what you have to say. The same applies if they are watching their favourite television program or working on their laptop. Let your other half know that you want to talk and ask if it is an appropriate time, and don’t get upset of they say no. Find a time when you are both free and able to focus on your conversation.

Try and avoid any topics that have been brought up and argued over previously; when you rake over hot coals people get burned, and your spouse will not be interested in listening again. Similarly if you are always complaining about something or being negative about something you are more likely to find your other half tuning out of the conversation, unwilling to be drawn into your negativity. But much more importantly, even though you feel as though your partner is not listening to you, are you sure their behaviour is not because you haven’t been listening to them?

Personal Issues

If you are trying to have a conversation about a topic that holds interest to you, if it is of no interest to your partner you cannot expect them to hang on your every word. Before you give voice to a topic ask your partner if they would like to discuss the subject with you. You should also bear in mind that if you are wanting to have an in depth discussion about your relationship or emotional or sexual issues, not everyone is comfortable with wearing their heart on their sleeves and being open and candid about how they feel, you need to appreciate this. On the other hand if what you want to discuss has you on opposite sides of the coin, ie: you agree with something and they disagree with it, their reasoning and passion may be so strong that they will not be open to listening to another point of view.

Information Overload

It could be that your partner has listened to you for as long as they could and now has information overload, they simply cannot absorb anything more from what you say. Especially if you are trying to offer advice or instruction, if they have a good grasp of what it is they are doing and how to do it, they will not be willing to listen to you tell them how to do it differently. Of course in some situations if your partner doesn’t believe that way you have to say is of any importance they can quite simply tune you out, or just ignore you in the hope that you will stop talking and leave them alone, especially if they do not want to listen to what you have to say.

Blame the Brain

Research has shown that men in fact, only listen using half of their brains, unlike women, which is why women seem to have the ability to listen to more than one conversation at a time, unlike a man. On average the attention span of an adult is only a brief seven seconds, so if you are having an important discussion it is important that you remember to pause occasionally, and allow your partner to ask occasional questions so that they are clear on what you are saying.

You should always make sure that when you need to have a discussion that all distractions such as mobile phones are switched off, so that the focus is clearly placed on what is being said. One thing that you really do need to remember though, is that if what you are trying to say is going to be the source of conflict, then it is perfectly natural for the other party to ignore, or switch off from listening to you, in order to avoid conflict and preserve the peace.

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